With cold and flu season officially here, local doctors are seeing more patients. But if you're battling a virus, such as a cold or stomach flu, many doctors say the best way to start dealing with your symptoms is over-the-counter medication.
With so many different cold and flu products available, it can be difficult to decide what to take for your sickness.
"Maybe chicken noodle soup," Steve Ahrendt said.
One thing Ahrendt is sure of is that the doctor's office shouldn't necessarily be your first stop when battling a cold. So he's prepared to wait.
"At least a week or two because it can take at least a couple weeks to go away," Ahrendt said.
"Most illnesses are viral, so an antibiotic is not going to help a viral illness," Sanford Dr. Kirsten Stotz said.
Stotz recommends a nasal decongestant or nasal saline spray or wash for a head cold.
"If it's a phlegmy cough, you can try mucolytic-type products. The most common one is Mucinex," Stotz said.
Water can also help with a cough or sore throat. Some hard candy can also help soothe a scratchy throat.
"Sugarless candies or lemon drops or anything that actually stimulates your saliva. So that will help keep things more moist so you won't have the dry, scratchy throat," Stotz said.
In addition to different types of medications, it can also help to switch to a blander diet when battling the stomach flu.
"Chicken broth, toast, some Saltines, that kind of stuff," Stotz said.
Staying hydrated is also important when battling the stomach flu.
"That means frequent sips of water or Gatorade or Powerade-type products. No guzzling. Just frequent small sips of stuff so it doesn't upset your stomach," Stotz said.
But rather than finding a solution for cold or flu symptoms, Ahrendt prefers to prevent it.
"The most important thing is to always wash before eating or handling food," Ahrendt said.
Stotz says while the doctor's office might not be your first stop when battling a virus, don't be afraid to visit the doctor if you've given it a good try at home.
Also, if you're having trouble with severe dehydration, not keeping anything down, or getting out of bed, you should see a doctor immediately.