Cold and Flu Management

Woman with nasal congestion

Cold and flu: relief and management

You may find it helpful to reassure your patients that most cases of the common cold and flu are harmless and can be safely managed at home using over-the-counter medicines such as Advil Tablets or Advil Liqui-Gels.

You may also want to direct them to seek early medical intervention if symptoms worsen, especially if they have underlying medical conditions or risk factors, to limit the potential for further complications.

Cold and flu management

  • Refresh your knowledge

    More than 200 different viruses are known to cause the symptoms of the common cold. An estimated 30% to 35% of all adult colds are due to rhinoviruses, while the flu is caused by the influenza virus [human influenza virus, type A and B).

    Most cold and flu cases are more of a nuisance and highly treatable, but in certain populations, it can be a serious threat and can result in serious illness and death.

    Cold and flu symptoms comparison chart

    Signs and symptoms

    Most cases of the common cold and flu can be successfully managed at home with nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic treatments.

  • Nonpharmacologic management

    Medication icon

    Nonpharmacologic management: tips to share with your patients

    These tips can help your patients feel better as their cold or flu symptoms run their course. You or your office staff may want to share them with your patients.

    • For relief of fever, headaches, and body aches, try over-the-counter ibuprofen like Advil Tablets or Advil Liqui-Gels. Aspirin should be avoided due to the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome
    • Try cough drops or throat lozenges to help ease coughs and sore throats
    • For more significant coughs, try over-the-counter cough suppressants
    • Try saline nasal drops or sprays to fight stuffiness
    • Stay hydrated with water, juice, broth, or other thin fluids. Warm lemon water with honey is also a popular choice. Staying hydrated helps mucus flow freely and helps to ease congestion
    • Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which act as diuretics
    • Gargle with saltwater. Mix approximately ½ teaspoon of salt with a single 8-oz glass of warm water, then gargle for a sore throat
    • Use a humidifier. Use a vaporizer or humidifier to add moisture to the air in the home, to help loosen congestion. Or try breathing steam from a bowl of hot water or a shower
    • Zinc lozenges may be useful in reducing how long symptoms last if taken early when symptoms first appear. Additionally, echinacea may reduce the duration of cold symptoms, according to some research
    • Eat well-balanced meals. Good nutrition promotes recovery. Take a vitamin supplement as necessary to achieve the daily recommended levels of vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, zinc, and copper
    • Get plenty of rest. People with colds or the flu may need 12 hours of sleep every night, and a daily nap or two. Staying home is a good idea—remember, these conditions are highly contagious for the first few days

    You may find that patients ask you about antibiotics to treat their colds or flu, not realizing that antibiotics are of no use against common cold and flu viruses. You may want to let them know that using antibiotics inappropriately contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

  • Advising patients on flu shots

    Doctor talking to patient

    The CDC recommends that almost everyone 6 months of age or older get an annual flu shot.

    • It is considered especially important for:
    • Anyone older than 65 years of age
    • Pregnant women
    • Anyone with asthma
    • Children younger than age 5
    • Those living in senior care facilities or assisted living
    • Anyone with a chronic health condition or disease

    Reviews of past studies indicate that the flu vaccine is 50% to 60% effective for healthy adults between 18 and 64 years of age—reducing illness, lessening the severity of illness, and reducing the risk of serious complications and hospitalization.

  • Treatment options when needed

    Advil and Advil Liqui-Gels packaging

    Treatment suggestions for the common cold include:

    • For relief of fever, headaches, and body aches, over-the-counter ibuprofen like Advil Tablets or Advil Liqui-Gels
    • Plenty of rest
    • Increased fluid intake

    Treatment suggestions for symptom relief in cases of the flu:

    • For relief of fever, headaches, and body aches, over-the-counter ibuprofen like Advil Tablets or Advil Liqui-Gels
    • Plenty of rest
    • Increased fluid intake

    Why Advil is an appropriate choice

    Advil is proven to provide significant relief of fever and aches and pains associated with cold and flu, with a favorable safety profile when used as directed.

    Extensively studied and widely used in clinical practice, Advil nonselectively inhibits COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes to block prostaglandin production and pain signaling, effectively treating pain and discomfort caused by inflammation.

  • Seeking medical attention: advice for patients

    Woman looking at medication container

    It can be difficult for patients to know when to seek medical attention. You may want to print out the information here to let your patients know when to seek immediate medical attention.

    For adults

    Symptoms of particular concern that should prompt patients to seek immediate medical care include:

    • Blue lips
    • Chest pain
    • Coughing up blood
    • Confusion
    • Dehydration
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Ear pain
    • High fever (greater than 102 °F) for 3 or more days.
    • Muscle pain
    • Ongoing dizziness
    • Seizures
    • Severe weakness
    • Severe vomiting
    • Shortness of breath
    • Sinus pain
    • Swollen glands in the neck or jaw
    • Worsening of existing medical conditions

    If symptoms continue or worsen after 10 days, patients should also see a doctor.

    For children

    Symptoms of concern that should prompt care providers to seek immediate medical attention include:

    • Fever of 100.4 °F (38 °C) in newborns up to 12 weeks
    • Rising fever and/or fever lasting more than 2 days in a child of any age
    • Fever with a rash
    • Severe symptoms (headache, throat pain, cough)
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Bluish lips or skin color
    • Wheezing
    • Ear pain
    • Extreme fatigue
    • Unusual fussiness; doesn’t want to be touched or held
    • Loss of appetite
    • Not drinking enough fluids
    • No tears when crying

    If child’s symptoms continue or worsen after 10 days, seek medical attention.

    Most cases of the common cold and flu are harmless. Pain and fever symptoms can be safely managed at home using over-the-counter medicines like Children’s Advil or for children ages 12 and over, Advil Tablets or Advil Liqui-Gels. Other symptoms may require a cough and cold medicine.

    However, if symptoms worsen or if a patient has an underlying medical condition, it’s recommended they seek early medical intervention to limit the risk of further complications.

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