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FAQ About the Common Cold

June 2, 2016

Did you know that every year, Americans get around 1 billion colds? In fact, the average child catches between six and 10 colds per year. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder why they call it the “common cold.”

Catching a cold is usually not as serious as other illnesses, but no one would argue against the inconvenience caused by this irksome virus.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Common Cold

  1. What is the difference between a cold and the flu?
    The cold and the flu are caused by different viruses, though they do have similar symptoms. Generally speaking, cold symptoms are much milder than flu symptoms, however. While a cold is usually accompanied by a sore throat, a stuffy nose, a cough, and sometimes a mild fever, the flu usually causes much higher fever, chills, aches, and moderate to severe fatigue. The cold is more common than the flu, which affects an average of five to 20% of Americans each year.
  2. Why don’t we have a cold vaccine?
    There are nearly 250 viruses that can cause the common cold. Basically, it is too difficult for scientists to create a vaccine that protects you against every single one of them. Additionally, there is less of a need to create a vaccine for colds because they usually come and go without serious complications. As long as you take care of yourself, they are usually gone within a few slightly miserable days.
  3. What is the best way to treat a cold?
    The best thing you can do is to drink lots of fluids in order to keep your body sufficiently hydrated. Avoid drinks that have caffeine or alcohol as these substances can dehydrate you. Even if you are not hungry, eat healthy food to provide your system with essential nutrients. If you have a fever, there are several over-the-counter medicines that may provide relief such as aspirin.
  4. Do I need an antibiotic?
    No, antibiotics fight bacteria, but your cold is caused by a virus. If your cold leads to additional complications, such as an ear or sinus infection, then your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.

If you suspect that your cold has led to more serious complications or if you fear you may have the flu, go to an urgent care facility or walk in clinic.