It’s cold and flu season, and both are caused by viruses.  Viruses cause the majority of illnesses, most of which make us feel absolutely miserable from head to toe, often with fever, body aches, weakness and fatigue.  Some of them cause vomiting and diarrhea.  Others cause runny nose, headache, sore throat, and cough.  These infections can drag on for weeks, especially if we don’t allow our bodies to rest and recover.  Unless it’s influenza, your symptoms will come on gradually over a few days and will start improving after a week.  Sometimes, after a week or two of a viral infection, a secondary bacterial infection develops, such as a sinus infection, ear infection or pneumonia.  If you have been sick for over a week, and instead of feeling gradually better, you suddenly get worse, with fever and severe pain in one ear or on one side of your face, you should see a doctor to see if you need antibiotics.  If you have a bad cough, especially if it’s difficult to breath, you should see a doctor.  If your symptoms are severe on the very first day with high fever and severe sore throat, you should see a doctor.  For cold symptoms, I recommend a cold medication containing a decongestant, such as Mucinex-D, a nasal steroid spray twice daily, such as Nasacort, and a nasal vasoconstrictor, such as Afrin, for two days only (after that, it can make your congestion worse).  I also recommend Elderberry to help your immune system fight the viral infection; even for influenza, Elderberry works as well as Tamiflu.  And don’t forget to get your annual flu shot!  Even if you still get the flu, it will not be as severe if you’ve had the flu shot.