If you're one of those people who brag, come flu season, that you "never, ever get sick," be aware: The odds may catch up to you. Every year, about 5% to 20% of U.S. residents get influenza, according to estimates from the CDC.
Taking certain antiviral drugs within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms can shorten the duration of the flu, but that involves recognizing you have the flu, getting in touch with your doctor, and going to the pharmacist before the 48 hours is up.
Just in case your number...
You usually don't get a fever with a cold. If you do, it may be a sign you've got the flu or an infection with a bacteria.
For the first few days that you're sick, your runny nose will be watery, but it turns thicker and darker after that. You may also get a mild cough that can last into the second week of your cold.
Since a cold can make your asthma worse, check with your doctor to see if you need to change your regular treatment plan.
If you cough up thick or dark mucus or you get a fever, you may have an infection with a bacteria. See your doctor to find out how to treat it. Also see him if your cough doesn't get better after a few weeks.
Your symptoms usually start between 1 and 3 days after you get infected with a cold virus. They typically last for about 3 to 7 days. By then the worst is over, but you may feel stuffed up for a week or more.
You're most contagious during the first 3 days that you're sick, but it's still possible to spread it during the first week.
Is It Allergies Instead of a Cold?
Sometimes you might mistake cold symptoms for hay fever. If they begin quickly and are over in 1 to 2 weeks, chances are it's not an allergy.
Allergies are caused by an overactive immune system, your defense against germs. Your body overreacts to things like dust or pollen. It then releases chemicals like histamine. This causes the passageways in your nose to swell, leading to a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing.
Hay fever isn't contagious, but some people may inherit a tendency to get it.