To dose or not to dose?
Now that you’ve figured out what’s bugging you, what are you going to do about it?
If you’re pretty sure this is an allergy attack, stick with your usual treatments. Eliminate allergens as much as possible and then take whatever usually works, whether it’s an over-the-counter medication (OTC) or a prescription you take regularly.
If it’s a cold, you probably don’t need to see the doctor. Instead, here’s what to do:
- Treat the symptoms – find an over-the-counter medicine for sneezing, congestion, and dripping
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and prevent mucus from building up
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after you’ve sneezed or blown your nose, to get rid of the cold bugs right away
- Stay at home to avoid sharing your cold and get extra rest so you’ll get well faster
If you think you have the flu, going to the doctor is a good idea if you can do it quickly. Several new antiviral medicines are available that can reduce the length of your illness by a day or more, as well as make you feel better. But they only work if you use them by the second day you’re sick and only if you have influenza, not a bad cold
Whatever’s wrong, if you aren’t better in a few days, call your doctor. You might have a secondary infection, and your doctor may be able to help. If you have a secondary infection, you won’t just not get better – you’ll probably also get worse. Symptoms can be an earache, a really bad sore throat, or a high fever. Especially if you really do start feeling better and then get worse again, there’s a chance you have an infection that requires medical treatment.