If you can’t tell from all the sniffling and coughing around you, cold weather is in full swing.

We’re seeing a flood of cases of RSV, the flu, and COVID-19—and a shortage of over-the-counter pain relievers for children.

If you are sick, health experts say it is important to stay home and rest to allow the body to recover and prevent the virus from spreading to others.

But some cold symptoms can last for weeks. How do you know when it is the right time to return to daily activities? Here’s what the experts have to say.

Can you have a fever with a cold?

It’s not common to have a fever with a cold, but it can happen, said Dr. Joseph Khabja, pulmonary and critical care physician at the Cleveland Clinic.

common cold symptoms

  • runny or stuffy nose.
  • Cough.
  • sore throat.
  • Mild headache
  • Sneeze.

How long does a cold last?

Cold symptoms usually last seven to 10 days and are most contagious in the first four to five days, said Dr. Maria Eugenia Petrini, medical director of the Clinically Integrated Network at Nemours Children’s Health.

Can cold weather cause a cold?

“Bundle up, or you’ll catch a cold!” It’s an age-old expression that parents forbid their children from wearing winter jackets. But a recent study found they may be right.

Researchers at Northeastern University studied nasal samples and found that the immune system in the nose works differently at different temperatures. Under normal body-heat conditions, the nose successfully deploys extracellular vesicles that trap and prevent viruses from entering the body. But a drop of just five degrees in temperature resulted in a 50% reduction in immune activity.

“Our study really focused on prevention, early exposure and how to boost your defenses,” said lead author Mansoor Amiji, Northeastern professor of pharmaceutical science.

how to treat a cold

Unlike bacterial infections, antibiotics have no effect on respiratory viruses. Petrini said this means the best thing to do is drink plenty of fluids and rest while the virus runs its course.

Many people rely on over-the-counter pain relievers to ease cold symptoms. But the lack of over-the-counter medicine for children has sent some parents into a panic. Health experts say that there are ways to treat cold at home without medicines:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Yes, that includes chicken noodle soup. Water and other clear liquids are best, but experts also say warm apple juice or lemonade is fine for young children.
  • get plenty of rest.
  • Be at ease Wear loose-fitting clothes or take a bath with lukewarm water when you have fever. Avoid cold shower. This can make you shiver and raise your body temperature.
  • overcrowding? Turn on the humidifier.

What can winter do wrong?

Anything that weakens the body’s immune system can prevent you from recovering more quickly. This includes physical exertion, acute stress, and smoking and alcohol.

“If you don’t give yourself extra time to recover, you can prolong recovery,” Petrini said.

When can you return to daily activities?

Experts urge people to stay home when sick to stop spreading the virus.

“People think they can continue with their regular lives, but if you have a cold, you are going through a viral process that is contagious,” Petrini said. “Staying home when you feel sick is the right thing to do for yourself and for others.”

After a week or two, it’s okay to return to daily activities, even if cold symptoms are still present. But it’s important to listen to your body’s limits.

gym: “Go back slowly rather than going full throttle,” Petrini said. “Instead of taking a full class, take half a class, test the waters, see how the body reacts to that exercise and demand.”

office: “We always say for kids to be able to go back to school . . . they need to be fever-free for 24 hours, and the symptoms need to be getting better. The same goes for adults,” Petrini said. If they are not feeling too tired.

Read more at usatoday.com

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