Cold & Flu Facts

Chances are you've been dealing with these common illnesses throughout your life. But as you get older, your body has a harder time fighting off infection. Learn more ›

Symptoms of Colds and Flu

There’s no cure for the common cold or seasonal influenza. Both are caused by viruses, so antibiotics won’t help. Bad news when you’re sniffly, achy, and overall miserable. More than 200 viruses cause a cold, but fewer cause the flu. Which bug is bearing down on you?

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Treatment for Colds and Flu

You can catch a cold at any time during the year. And often, you and your family may find yourselves seeking your health care provider's help in battling the misery that the illness can cause. You may even be hoping for a miracle drug that will provide an instant cure.

It's easy to mistake antibiotics as a magic remedy for a cold. For a long time, antibiotics have dutifully treated the conditions they were intended to be used for, like bacterial pneumonia, sinusitis, and tonsillitis. Recently, it has been shown that many kinds of gastric and duodenal ulcers are caused by bacteria (Helicobacter pylori) and can be cured with antibiotics. So, it may seem that they should work for colds and the flu, as well.

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Living with Colds and Flu

It starts with a sneeze and a runny nose. From your child's symptoms, you suspect you're dealing with a cold. You want to help your child feel better, but choosing among countless over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicines can be daunting, especially since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended against using them for children younger than six.

A lot of products contain a mix of ingredients meant to treat more than one symptom, including symptoms your child may not have.

Ask your pediatrician what he or she recommends for different symptoms, and do it before your child gets a cold.

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Did You Know?

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If you have the flu, you are contagious one day before symptoms appear and up to five days after.