For seniors, the common cold can be more than just a nuisance. In fact, it can interfere with holiday plans, daily activities, and long-term health. Thus, understanding how long it takes to recover from a cold is important for seniors to know. That way, they can plan accordingly. This article will explain how long it takes for seniors to get over a cold. However, before that, it's important to distinguish between the common cold and influenza (or flu).
How to Distinguish Between the Common Cold and the Flu
Common colds and the flu are both contagious respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. According to the CDC, the flu is caused by the influenza virus. In contrast, the common cold can be caused by other viruses, including parainfluenza, rhinoviruses, and seasonal coronaviruses.
Common colds cause a mild set of symptoms, including:
- A runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Mild cough
Flu symptoms tend to be more severe and can include:
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Dry cough
How Long Does It Take for Seniors to Get Over a Cold?
Generally, the common cold lasts 7-10 days in adults. However, a senior's natural immunity may be lower than a younger adult's, making them more likely to have colds that can last up to two weeks or longer.
In some cases, even seemingly mild colds can take a toll on seniors and cause secondary illnesses like pneumonia. Colds can also intensify symptoms from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, or emphysema. Luckily, seniors can take precautionary steps to stay healthy and fight off the common cold.
Tips on Recovering From a Cold Quickly
Most colds run their course and naturally resolve within two weeks. But there are a few things that seniors or their caregivers can do to ease the symptoms and quickly recover:
- Rest: Resting is important for allowing the body to recover and fight off infections.
- Stay hydrated: Hydrating with water, juices, and hot beverages, like tea or soup, can help loosen congestion and soothe the throat.
- Eat healthy foods that are easy to digest: Eating light, nutritious foods, like fruits and vegetables, can help strengthen the body's natural immunity.
- Avoid contact with others: It's a good idea for recovering seniors to avoid interacting with others. This reduces the risk of spreading germs and contracting secondary illnesses.
- Use cold medicines: Over-the-counter medicines like antihistamines, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and decongestants can relieve symptoms temporarily. However, seniors should speak with their doctor before taking any drugs.
- Try home remedies: Home remedies like chicken soup, rubbing vapor rub on the chest, gargling salt water, and drinking tea with lemon and honey can also help ease cold symptoms.
Preventing a Cold in Seniors
The best way for seniors to protect themselves from the common cold is to practice good hygiene, such as washing their hands regularly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. They should also avoid close contact with people who are showing cold or flu symptoms.
Seniors should get enough rest and exercise regularly. Exercise helps build a stronger immune system, making it easier for seniors to fight colds and other illnesses. Eating nutritious foods high in vitamins C and D can also help boost immunity and help seniors stay healthy during the winter.
When Should Seniors Seek Medical Care to Get Over a Cold?
Most of the time, seniors can stay home and recover from a cold without medical intervention. However, if they experience severe symptoms, like difficulty breathing or chest pain, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible. They should also see their doctor if the symptoms last more than two weeks.
In-Home Care With Senior Helpers Santa Rosa Wine Country
For seniors looking for in-home assistance in Santa Rosa, Ukiah, Sebastopol, and Rohnert Park, Senior Helpers provides quality care from dedicated caregivers. Our services include assistance in day-to-day activities, help with medications and meals, light housekeeping, and companionship.
Senior Helpers' caregivers can also provide extra support for seniors during the cold season. We can check for symptoms of a cold or flu, remind them to take their medication, and provide transportation to the doctor if necessary. With the right care, seniors can get over a cold quickly and enjoy their holidays without worry. Contact us today to learn more.