When the sniffles set in, and you find yourself sneezing, coughing and spluttering, how do you know if it’s a cold or the flu?
It’s important to know which is which, as a cold is generally harmless but the flu can lead to serious health problems.
In fact, 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year because of problems associated with the flu.
Cold vs flu…how can you figure it out? Keep reading!
Is it a cold or the flu? The flu virus often mimics cold symptoms, so it can be difficult to know the difference.
One way is to take your temperature. If it’s high, it’s probably the flu.
A cold often progresses a little slower than the flu. You may feel a little ill for a few days before the cold reaches its peak. But with the flu, you feel great one day and very sick the next!
Once you understand the symptoms, you can easily differentiate between a cold and the flu. Keep reading to see cold vs flu symptoms.
A cold is a viral upper respiratory tract infection. It is usually only a mild infection and can generally go away without any treatment.
The first symptoms of a cold are a sore throat. This usually goes away after a day or two but develops into a runny nose and congestion. Afterward, a cough develops. A slight fever and headaches are also possible.
Colds are common in winter months and usually last about a week.
During the first three days of your symptoms, you are at your most contagious. Prevent spreading the infection by staying at home, resting and washing your hands frequently.
If your cold symptoms don’t improve after a week, you may need to go and see a doctor. Sometimes a cold can develop into a bacterial infection, and you will need antibiotics to get better.
In contrast to a cold, the flu is caused by the influenza virus. It usually lasts up to 7 days.
The major difference between cold and flu is that the flu is more severe. Flu symptoms are the same as a cold, but with an added fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, and fatigue. Some cases of flu, such as the Swine flu, can also bring on vomiting and diarrhea.
Flu can be complicated for the elderly, the young, or people with lung or heart problems. If you notice you are short of breath, you should get medical attention, as it could be a sign of pneumonia.
Flu season generally occurs in the fall and winter. To avoid getting it, you should get a vaccine before the flu season even starts.
Just like a cold virus, the flu enters your body through your eyes, nose or mouth. If you touch these areas, you could be infecting yourself. So wash your hands regularly.
Cold vs flu…which is it? As you can see, although both a cold and the flu involve a runny nose, coughing and sneezing, there is a big difference.
If you think your cold or flu has developed into something more sinister, you should consider visiting an Urgent Care provider.
We at Coastal Urgent Care in Bossier are open 24/7 and can meet many of your medical needs. Contact us to book an appointment, or just walk right in for immediate care.