Cold and Flu FAQ

Answers to your questions

How can I avoid getting sick?

The flu shot is the single best way to prevent the flu. You can also avoid getting and spreading viruses by:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and warm water
  • Avoiding people with colds when possible
  • Cleaning surfaces you touch with a germ-killing disinfectant
  • Using a tissue when you sneeze or cough
  • Not touching your nose, eyes or mouth before washing your hands. Germs can enter your body easily by these paths.

Is it the cold or flu?

Symptoms of a cold usually include a stuffy nose, sore throat and sneezing. Signs of the flu include tiredness, fever, headache, a bad cough and major aches and pains.

What can I do to feel better?

  • Stay home and rest, especially while you have a fever
  • Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke, which can make cold symptoms worse
  • Drink plenty of fluids like water, fruit juice and clear soups
  • Gargle with warm salt water a few times a day to relieve a sore throat

Should I take medicine for a cold or the flu?

Medicine can't cure a cold or the flu, and antibiotics don’t work against viruses. Over-the-counter (OTC) medicine can, however, help relieve some of your cold or flu symptoms. Read labels carefully. If you have questions, talk to your physician/provider or pharmacist. The ingredients listed below are found in many cold and flu medicines:

  • Analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) relieve aches and pains and reduce fever
  • Antitussives with the active ingredient dextromethorphan (Robitussin) may help with a cough
  • Oral decongestants with the active ingredient phenylephrine (Sudafed PE) can reduce congestion

Who should get a flu shot?

In general, anyone who wants to reduce his or her chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, certain people who are at high risk of having serious flu complications, or people who live with or care for those at high risk for serious complications, should get vaccinated each year:

    High-risk groups:

  • 6 months to 5 years of age
  • Pregnant women
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  • People who live with or provide care to children less than six months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for serious complications
  • Health care workers
  • People who living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

Each year, new flu vaccines are made to protect against the types of influenza expected to cause illness that year. Contact your medical provider or Providence Medical Group to determine if you should get a flu vaccination this year.

If you need help finding a physician who can help diagnose and treat the flu, please call the New Patient Scheduling Line: 503-582-2185.