Tag Archives: flu

Help! The ‘Bug’ Bit Me

By: Tywanna Hamilton, CRNP

You’re coughing, sneezing and running a fever. You’ve been bitten by “the bug.”

Colds and flu are caused by viruses. There’s no cure once you’ve been infected – antibiotics don’t work on viruses — but there are things you can do to reduce the misery and speed up your recovery.

Stay home

Once you’re sick, it’s best to go home and wait it out. Trying to push through illness can make it last longer and put others at risk for infection. At home, you should:

  • Get plenty of bed rest
  • Avoid physical exertion
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration. Avoid alcohol (it dehydrates you and may interact badly with medicine) and caffeine (it can keep you from resting)

Try home remedies

Some home remedies can help you feel better by clearing your nasal and throat passages, and easing headaches and sore throat:

  • Use a neti pot or similar device to rinse the nasal passages with saline
  • Drink hot green, black, or herbal tea
  • Gargle with hot salt water for a sore throat
  • Run a humidifier to moisten dry air
  • Take a hot shower to let steam loosen congestion
  • Put a hot compress on your forehead or nose for headache or sinus pain

Use over-the-counter medicine

Over-the-counter medicines can’t cure a cold or flu, but they can reduce your symptoms and make you feel better. There are dozens of options to reduce fever and pain, relieve congestion, quiet coughs, and ease a sore throat. Keep in mind, however, that some over-the-counter medicine may cause side effects, or they may react badly with other medication you’re taking. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure they’re safe for you.

Take antiviral drugs for the flu

Antiviral drugs don’t cure the flu, but they can help prevent it, ease your symptoms and shorten the time you have it. For antivirals to treat the flu, they need to be started in the first two days after your symptoms appear. They are only available by prescription, so ask your doctor if an antiviral can help you.

These treatments can really help when you’ve been bitten by the bug. Your doctor may have other suggestions, so ask about ways you can get better faster.


Tywanna Hamilton, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner, received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and her Master of Science in Nursing degree from Prairie View A&M University. Ms. Hamilton is certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She cares for patients at the Arundel Mills office.

Is it a Cold or Flu?

Q & A with Neil Padgett, M.D., MPH

Q:  How can I tell if I have a cold or the flu?

A:  While the common cold and flu can have similar symptoms, they are very different illnesses in terms of how long they last and how severe they are.

The first sign of a cold is often a sore throat. Symptoms that follow can include a runny nose, congestion or a cough. A cold usually lasts a few days to a week. Adults don’t often run a fever with a cold, but children may.

Flu symptoms are likely to come on suddenly and be more severe. Common signs of flu are a sore throat, fever, headache, muscle and body aches, congestion and cough. Some people get vomiting and diarrhea. While the flu can last a week or longer, it can also result in more serious illnesses like pneumonia, particularly in the elderly or very young.

Q: How can I treat a cold or flu?

A: First, get lots of rest and drink plenty of clear fluids — water, broth and sports drinks. Next, treat your symptoms with over-the-counter medications to ease fever and aches, congestion and coughs. For the flu, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications such as Relenza® or Tamiflu®. They can make flu symptoms less severe and help you recover faster.

Q: Should I take antibiotics?

A: Antibiotics will not help because they fight bacterial infections, not viral illnesses like flu or the common cold. Taking an antibiotic will not make you feel better or help you get better faster.

Using antibiotics when you don’t need them contributes to a growing problem: antibiotic resistance. Due to over-use of antibiotics, some diseases that were once easily cured by antibiotics have become resistant to them. So, if you have a cold or flu, antibiotics are not a  treatment option.

Q:  When should I see a doctor?

A:  If you experience persistent coughing, fever, congestion, headache or painful swallowing (which may indicate strep throat), you should talk with your primary care provider. In general, if your symptoms aren’t getting better ‒ or start getting worse ─ call your doctor.

Q:  How can I prevent getting colds or the flu?

A:  Wash your hands often and avoid close contact with others who have a cold or flu.  A cold is contagious during the first three days, while a person with the flu can be contagious a day before feeling the symptoms and up to 5-7 days after getting sick.

The annual flu vaccine is your best defense against the flu.  After you get the shot, the vaccine takes 1-2 weeks to give you maximum protection, so the sooner you get vaccinated, the better.

Neil Padgett, M.D., MPHDr. Padgett is a Maryland Primary Care Physicians, LLC partner and is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He received his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1984 and completed his residency program in Internal Medicine at University of Maryland Medical Center in 1987.