Confused and feeling ill? Woke up sneezing and coughing? Do you have that achy, feverish, can’t even move a muscle feeling too?
Many people don’t know the difference between flu and a cold. A cold is just a milder respiratory ailment than the flu. While a cold makes you feel miserable for a few days, with symptoms such as mild headaches and a runny nose, a flu can make you feel quite ill for a few days or even weeks. The flu can also result in serious health problems such as pneumonia.
Is It a Cold?
- Cold symptoms usually kick off with a bad throat, soreness, itching and discomfort which usually go away after a day or two. Nasal symptoms are runny nose, and congestion, along with a cough by the fourth and fifth days. Fever is usually not so common in adults, but a slight temperature is possible. Children often get a fever with cold.
- Your nose has watery nasal secretions with recurring sneezes for the first few days. Later, the secretion becomes thicker and darker. Dark mucus is natural and this infection is nothing to be taken seriously.
- Several hundred different kinds of viruses may cause your cold symptoms.
- Cold symptoms usually last for about a week. During the first three days of this infection, the condition is contagious. This means if you come in contact with others you can pass the cold to them, so stay home and get as much rest as possible.
- If cold symptoms are persistent even after a week, you may have contracted a bacterial infection and may need antibiotics.
- Sometimes cold symptoms can be mistaken for allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or a sinus infection. If cold symptoms begin immediately and subside after a week, then it is a cold, not an allergy. If your cold symptoms do not get better after a week, check with your physician for allergy or sinusitis.
Is It a Flu?
- Flu might be smaller a word than cold but entails bigger problems. Its symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms and come on quickly. Symptoms like sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches, congestion, and cough.
- Swine flu in particular causes vomiting and diarrhea.
- Most flu symptoms gradually subside in two to five days, but it’s very common to feel run down or lethargic for a week or more.
- A common complication of the flu is pneumonia, particularly in people with lung or heart problems. If you notice shortness of breath or a fever that comes back after having been gone for a day or two, let your doctor know.
- Flu virus enters the body through the mucous membranes present in the nose, eyes, or mouth. It is very important to keep hands germ-free as touching these areas might spread the infection.
Can I prevent flu or cold symptoms?
The most important preventive measure for colds and flu is frequent hand washing and staying germ free. Hand washing by rubbing the hands with warm soapy water is the ideal way to stay hygienic and germ free.
In addition, you can also get a flu vaccine to prevent seasonal influenza, where you think that hand washing to prevent flu or cold symptoms might not cut it. Within two weeks of getting a flu vaccine, antibodies start to develop in your body to provide protection against flu.
Children who receive the vaccine for the first time usually need two doses delivered with a gap of two month. Antiviral medicine may also be helpful in preventing flu if you have been exposed to an infected person.