How Long Can Cold & Flu Viruses Live Outside the Body

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Cold and flu season is coming up fast, which means you’re probably looking for better ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Washing your hands and avoiding people who are ill help tremendously, but they aren’t foolproof. It may help you to understand what the cold and flu viruses are and how long they can live outside of the body.

The Lifespan of Cold and Flu Viruses

Like human beings, not all viruses live for the same amount of time. The type of virus and the atmosphere it is in greatly determines how long it can survive outside of the human body. Typically, a cold virus can live on surfaces indoors for as long as a week. Flu viruses don’t live nearly as long and are typically only active for about 24 hours. However, all viruses have the ability to live longer when they are on fabrics or other soft surfaces that tend not to be wiped down with cleaners as often. Viruses also live longer in rooms that have low humidity, little sunlight, and lower temperatures.

The Differences Between Cold and Flu Viruses

You may feel a tickle in your throat that leads you to believe you’re about to get sick. Maybe you’ve started coughing and are wondering “what do different coughs mean?”. It is important to know the difference between cold and flu viruses to help you determine what has you feeling unwell and how you should treat it.

The truth is that you may not be able to tell, though. Cold and flu viruses are very similar. They are both respiratory illnesses that cause similar symptoms. However, there are a couple of things to consider. If your symptoms seem to come on gradually, it’s probably a cold, as the flu often begins suddenly and without warning. Colds are more likely to cause stuffy nose issues, while the flu more often causes a fever or body aches. Both are likely to leave you feeling more tired than normal, cause you to cough, and cause you to have a sore throat.

Treating Cold and Flu Viruses

Before you begin seeking the best over the counter children’s flu medicine, it’s important to understand that nothing “cures” a cold or the flu. Viruses simply need to run their courses. However, homeopathic flu medicine and other treatment options can help to ease the discomfort while you or your loved one works to get better. 

The medications necessary depend on the symptoms. Analgesics may help with the pain, while antihistamines can dry out a runny nose. Decongestants are helpful for relieving congestion in the nose, and cough medicine are helpful to give a sore throat time to rest and heal. Drinking plenty of water and warm liquids, such as broth, is important for keeping hydrated. Avoid dairy when you have a cold or the flu, as it can make nasal symptoms worse. Remember to get plenty of rest as well. During sleep is when your body works hardest to heal itself. 

Don’t wait until you aren’t feeling well to stock your cabinets with the items you need to feel better. Having them already on hand ensures you don’t need to run to the store when you aren’t feeling well and can begin to feel better as soon as possible. Remember, washing your hands often, disinfecting surfaces, and staying away from people who aren’t feeling well can help you to avoid getting sick in the first place. 


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