Explaining the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu


Explaining the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu

 The common cold and flu seem to have the same symptoms initially. This is mainly because they are both respiratory illnesses. Cold and flu are actually caused by different types of disease germs called viruses. They also have certain distinct features and symptoms that will allow you to know without a doubt whether you have a cold or the flu.

The flu and a cold share some common symptoms, however. Those suffering from either of these conditions will usually show symptoms such as:

* general fatigue and body weakness
* aches and pains
* frequent sneezing
* a stuffy or running nose

Generally, cold symptoms are less severe than flu symptoms.

A major difference between both conditions is the type of complication that can follow each illness. For instance, colds hardly ever lead to other more serious health conditions. But the flu can easily cause sinusitis, ear infections, sepsis or pneumonia.

To discover whether the symptoms you have are caused by the flu or a cold, you need to pay a visit to your physician. Your healthcare provider can carry out tests that will reveal the exact cause of the symptoms you have.

If your physician’s diagnosis shows that you have a cold, you may only have to treat the symptoms until the virus eventually dies off. Such treatment usually involves the use of a few over-the-counter drugs. You also have to stay hydrated by taking in at least eight glasses of water daily while you do your best to rest.

Taking some over-the-counter flu medication may also help you to reduce the severity of the symptoms in the initial stages. Similarly, getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated will be of great benefit to anyone who has the flu. Just like a cold, the flu may take a while before the viruses that cause it finally leave the body.

What are the common symptoms of flu?

Headache: The first symptom of flu you have may be a persistent headache. In a few cases, your eyes could become extremely sensitive to light.

Fever: Flu causes a rise in body temperature. Fevers caused by flu will lead to a body temperature between 100 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It is common for young children, who have weaker immune systems to have higher fevers than adults due to the flu. Most fevers will cause chills and sweating and may last for 3 to 7 days.

Cough: Flu is usually accompanied by a dry and persistent cough. It may get worse and lead to pain and discomfort. You may also have shortness of breath and experience congestion in the chest. Coughs caused by flu usually lasts for about 14 days.

Muscle pains: Muscle aches occur in the arms, legs, back, and neck. Sometimes, they may be very severe and make it difficult to perform normal day-to-day activities.

Fatigue: Tiredness is a less conspicuous symptom of flu. This is because a feeling of weakness could be a sign of different types of illnesses. But the flu is almost always followed by fatigue that is quite difficult to overcome.

What are the common symptoms of a cold?

Cold symptoms usually take a couple of days to appear in full. They include:

Head Symptoms:
* Swollen lymph nodes
* Cough and sore throat
* Headache
* Watery eyes

Nasal Symptoms
* Postnasal drip at the back of the throat
* Runny nose
* Sneezing
* Stuffy nose
* Sinus pressure
* Congestion

Whole-body symptoms:
* Breathing difficulties
* Discomfort in the chest
* Low-grade fever
* Body aches
* Fatigue and tiredness

If you or another member of your family has any of these symptoms, you need to see your doctor immediately for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Sue Reddy specializes in the treatment of infectious disease among many other specialties. She understands what is required to live a healthy, active life. Please feel free to take a look around her website and if you feel she provides services you may be interested in, give Dr. Reddy a call. Her staff would be more than happy to set up an appointment and answer any questions you may have.

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