(ARA) - Though it may have started off mild in many parts of the country, cold and flu season is now in full swing and staying healthy this time of year can be a challenge. For those suffering, identifying the type of illness - cold, flu, sinus infection, etc. - and finding the right over-the-counter medications are key in helping to alleviate symptoms.
Symptoms of a cold may vary and can include a runny nose, sore throat, cough, watery eyes and congestion. Medications containing pseudoephedrine (located behind the counter in the pharmacy), including many national and store-brand decongestants sold at leading retailers, can be used to address nasal congestion, while pain relievers containing active ingredients such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help with other symptoms such as a sore throat, headache or fever.
Influenza, or the flu, is a viral infection affecting the respiratory tract, including the nose, throat and lungs. The flu tends to come on suddenly and with more severe symptoms, whereas a cold generally develops slowly. The best defense against influenza is prevention by getting an annual flu vaccination. For the unlucky ones who've contracted the flu this year, try to get plenty of rest and take in a lot of fluids. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication such as Tamiflu.