Are you sick enough to call the doctor?

November 05, 1991|By Gerri Kobren

Once you've got your cold or flu, there's not much to be done about it -- although you may feel better if you get plenty of rest and take in a lot of fluids.

The anti-viral prescription drug amatadine can reduce the severity of the flu if taken very early, but there is no drug that interrupts or hastens the end of the common cold.

Over-the-counter remedies can reduce symptoms of either ailment and aspirin or acetaminophen can be used to reduce fever.

However, doctors say, all fevers do not have to be knocked out; a raised temperature is one of the ways your body kills infective organisms. And children through the teen years should not be given aspirin, since it has been associated with life-threatening Reye's syndrome in young people with viral infections.

Although most healthy people will recover from both ailments in about a week, colds and flu can leave you vulnerable to bronchitis, sinusitis, earaches, pneumonia and strep throat.

Therefore, call your doctor if:

* You are past 65, or otherwise likely to have complications from the flu, and have not had a shot.

* You have come down with secondary infections in the past; antibiotics can sometimes be used prophylactically to prevent bacterial infection.

* You are unable to hold anything in your stomach and are becoming dehydrated from vomiting.

* You have a really sore throat, with fever and swollen glands; it could be strep.

* You have a really awful headache, with stiff neck, fever, rash and irritability; it could be meningitis.

* You have fever, chills, cough and pain in your chest; it could be pneumonia.

8, * If your fever tops 102 to 103 degrees.

--Sources include physicians and "The Flu: Facts & Fallacies and How to Fight Back," by the makers of TheraFlu.

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