Differentiating between the common cold and flu can be difficult. This is because some of the symptoms are similar and can overlap. However, doctors in Tweed Heads can perform a simple flu test for confirmation purposes. The test is done using a cotton swab and the samples are taken from your throat or nose. Below are some simple guidelines that you can use to differentiate between the symptoms of flu and cold. The guidelines also include what you can do once you know what is ailing you.
Major Difference Between Common Cold and Flu
Both flu and colds are respiratory diseases that are caused by viruses. Doctors in Tweed Heads recommend checking your symptoms as one way of differentiating between the two. The symptoms of a cold include:
- Sore throat
- Stuffy or running nose
- Body aches
- Feeling tired
Major Symptoms of Flu Include:
- Dry or hacking cough
- Body chills and shaking
- Severe body and muscle aches
- Moderate or high fever (fever is not common to everyone who has flu)
- Fatigue that may go on for about two weeks or more
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Diarrhea (not common)
Although some symptoms overlap, cold is usually milder than flu. Symptoms of cold will often start to disappear within 7 to 10 days and in severe cases, they may go up to two weeks. Flu symptoms, on the other hand, are often quick and severe. They can start to disappear within the first week or two depending on the severity.
Definition of the Common Cold
Common cold can be generally defined as an upper respiratory infection that is caused by viruses. The American Lung Association estimates that there are more than 200 viruses that can cause the common cold. The most notorious of these viruses is the rhinovirus which is highly contagious and often makes people sniffle or sneeze. Even though you are likely to catch a cold during any season of the year, colds are usually more contagious during winter because the viruses that cause it spread faster in low humidity seasons such as winter. The virus can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes thereby releasing droplets containing the virus into the air. Another person can get the virus if they touch a contaminated surface and then touch their face. The infected person is normally contagious within the first 2 to 4 days.
Treatment Options for Common Cold
Since cold is a viral infection using antibiotics may not be effective. However, you can use different types of over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen, antihistamines, and decongestants. Such medications can be used to relieve common cold symptoms such as body aches and nasal congestion. You also need to take a lot of water and consider using natural remedies such as taking Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea. Natural remedies are not used to treat cold but they can be effective in relieving certain symptoms. It is also important to know if you have any allergies or whether you have any bacterial infection. This is important because symptoms such as sinusitis or sore throat may require antibiotics to relieve the symptoms.
Prevention Measures for Common Cold
There are no vaccines that can be used to protect people from the common cold. However, there are personal measures that you can take to prevent this mild but terrible infection. They include:
Avoid people who are sick and showing symptoms of the common cold. Avoid sharing personal items and utensils with people who are sick.
Practice Proper Hygiene
Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water. Use disposable tissue when coughing and sneezing or cough into the elbow.
The Seasonal Flu
Flu is another respiratory infection that is also caused by viruses. It is sometimes referred to as influenza and unlike the common cold, it is usually seasonal. The flu season starts from fall and continues into spring usually peaking during winter. Viruses causing flu can spread the same way as common cold viruses. An infected person is contagious starting from the time of infection up to seven days after displaying the symptoms. Another major difference between flu and the common cold is that flu can cause severe conditions such as pneumonia. This is more common among vulnerable groups which entail
- Older people
- Young children
- Expectant women
- People with underlying medical conditions that may weaken their immune systems such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.
Flu can be easily managed by taking plenty of water and resting. You can also resort to over-the-counter drugs especially pain relievers and decongestants. Drugs such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can also help relieve the symptoms. However, it is advisable to see a doctor who will ascertain the seriousness of your condition. After a medical evaluation of your illness, the doctor can recommend antiviral medicine to help manage symptoms of the flu.