Friday, September 29, 2023

Are Flu And Cold The Same

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Check If You Have A Cold

Parkland diagnoses patients with COVID and flu at the same time

Cold symptoms come on gradually and can include:

  • a blocked or runny nose
  • a sore throat
  • pressure in your ears and face
  • loss of taste and smell

The symptoms are the same in adults and children. Sometimes symptoms last longer in children.

Cold and flu symptoms are similar, but flu tends to be more severe.

Difference between cold and flu

Appears quickly within a few hours
Affects mainly your nose and throat Affects more than just your nose and throat
Makes you feel unwell, but you’re OK to carry on as normal Makes you feel exhausted and too unwell to carry on as normal

How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose A Cold And/or The Flu

Generally, health care professionals distinguish between the cold and the flu by running a rapid influenza diagnostic test, usually done within about 30 minutes. Depending on which test is used, the results can vary but most health care practitioners, including emergency medicine personnel, utilize this test. If the test is negative, patients probably have a cold unless their symptoms and signs become more severe.

The Difference Between The Flu A Cold And Allergies

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If you have a runny nose, a stuffy head, and generally feel under the weather, how do you know whether its allergies making you feel miserable, a cold, or the more serious flu virus?

With the current flu season showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon it is important to know to treat accordingly, and if you do have a virus to avoid passing it to someone else.

Isabel Valdez, a physician assistant and instructor of family and community medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, gives her expert tips on how to tell what is going on.

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How To Prevent Catching A Cold

A person with a cold can start spreading it from a few days before their symptoms begin until the symptoms have finished.

The best ways to avoid catching a cold are:

  • washing your hands with warm water and soap
  • not sharing towels or household items with someone who has a cold
  • not touching your eyes or nose in case you have come into contact with the virus â it can infect the body this way
  • staying fit and healthy

The flu vaccine helps prevent flu but not colds.

What Causes The Common Cold

Is it possible to have the flu and a cold at the same time?

A cold is caused by any one of several viruses that causes inflammation of the membranes that line the nose and throat. It can result from any one of more than 200 different viruses. But, the rhinoviruses causes most colds.

The common cold is very easily spread to others. It’s often spread through airborne droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air by the sick person. The droplets are then inhaled by another person. Colds can also be spread when a sick person touches you or a surface that you then touch.

Contrary to popular belief, cold weather or being chilled doesn’t cause a cold. However, more colds do occur during the cold season . This is probably due to a variety of factors, including:

  • Schools are in session, increasing the risk for exposure to the virus

  • People stay more indoors and are in closer proximity to each other

  • Low humidity, causing dry nasal passages which are more susceptible to cold viruses

The Dos and Donts of Easing Cold Symptoms

At the first sign of cold symptoms, you may look to stock up on any number of remedies. But what actually works? While there is no cure for the common cold, there are some proven ways to treat your symptoms. Heres a guide to what works and what to avoid.

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Treatment And Medication Options For Cold And Flu

There is no cure for either the flu or the common cold. There are over-the-counter options that can ease throat pain and cough, decongest the nose and sinuses, and lessen body aches and headaches.

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What Are Other Ways To Treat And Prevent The Flu

Antiviral prescription medicines and an annual flu vaccine are available for treating and preventing the flu.

Prescription anti-flu medicines include amantadine , rimantadine , zanamivir and oseltamivir . These drugs do not cure the flu, but they can make the symptoms milder and make you feel better more quickly. They are only effective when used in the first 48 hours of flu-like symptoms.

These drugs are not needed for healthy people who get the flu. They are usually reserved for people who are very sick with the flu or those who are at risk of complications from the flu, such as people with long-term chronic medical conditions or older age.

Flu vaccine . Although there is currently no vaccine against the common cold, there is a vaccine to prevent the flu. The vaccine is available by both shot and nasal spray. It works by exposing the immune system to the viruses. The body responds by building antibodies against the flu. The flu shot contains dead flu viruses. The nasal spray contains live, but weakened, flu viruses. The nasal spray is only approved for healthy children and adults two to 49 years old and who are not pregnant.

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I’ve Heard Rapid Tests Don’t Work On Omicron So What’s The Use

It’s not entirely clear yet why the rapid tests don’t seem to pick up Omicron as effectively as they picked up earlier variants.

Barrett said it is too early to know whether it is the variant itself that is more difficult to pick up, or whether there is less viral load to detect because people getting sick have some level of immunity from vaccination or previous infection.

But there are ways to make the test more effective.

First, test more often.

“Testing every 24 hours while you’re symptomatic,” said Mithani.

“For at least for every single day that you’re symptomatic, I would test every day if you have access to that number of rapid tests. If not, then you can stretch it out every one to two, or one to three days, just to ration tests a little bit.”

Second, go beyond your nose.

“Swab both your throat and your nose to improve the sensitivity or the accuracy of the test,” said Mithani.

She advises swabbing your throat first, around where your tonsils are and where the uvula is in the middle.

“Swab it aggressively,” she said, “and then swab both of your nostrils.”

Pirzada said you can swab your cheek, too, in between doing your throat and nose.

That said, he points out some rapid tests have been found to perform better than others. And all of the doctors agreed that just because you test negative, that does not mean you don’t have COVID.

“As soon as you develop any cold-like symptoms, that’s a sign that you might have it,” said Pirzada.

Duration Of Cold And Flu

Yes, you can get the flu and COVID at the same time

The duration of a cold or the flu varies depending on the virus involved and your immune systems ability to fight off infection. Thats why the very young, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses are most susceptible to viral infections and possible complications.

The best weapon we have is our own immune system, says Donald W. Novey, MD, a family and integrative medicine specialist in Poulsbo, Washington. Good nutrition, adequate sleep and exercise, and low levels of stress can bolster the immune system. A failure on any one of these four points can weaken the immune system and either prolong an existing cold or lead to more frequent ones, Dr. Novey says.

Cold symptoms typically subside within 7 to 10 days, while the flu typically lasts three to seven days with severe symptoms subsiding after a few days. But some symptoms, like fatigue and cough, can linger for weeks.

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When Do People Normally Get A Cold Or The Flu

Most people associate cold and flu season with the fall and winter, and theres a reason for that. Influenza viruses seem to prefer cold and dry conditions, so that means peak months are generally between December and April in the U.S.

Although its possible to catch a cold any time of year, most people in the U.S. seem to get them in the fall and winter. Rhinoviruses the most common cause of a cold peak during the autumn months and then have another smaller outbreak again during the spring.

A Pharmacist Can Help With Cold Medicines

You can buy cough and cold medicines from pharmacies or supermarkets. A pharmacist can advise you on the best medicine.

You can:

  • ease aches or lower a temperature with painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • relieve a blocked nose with sprays or tablets

Be careful not to use cough and cold medicines if you’re taking paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets. Cough and cold medicines often also contain paracetamol and ibuprofen so it can be easy to take more than the recommended dose.

Some are not suitable for children, babies and pregnant women.

There’s little evidence that supplements prevent colds or speed up recovery.

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How To Get The Flu Vaccine

The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It’s offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.

The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn before flu starts spreading. But you can get the vaccine later.

The flu vaccine is given to people who:

  • are 50 and over
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are in a long-stay residential care
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • live with someone who is more likely to get infections
  • frontline health or social care workers

You can have the NHS flu vaccine at:

  • your GP surgery

If People Are Masking And Being Careful Why Are They Still Getting Colds Or Flu

What To Do When You Have Two Colds At The Same Time

While COVID-19 is primarily airborne, colds and flu spread more on surfaces, too, so Pirzada said it’s possible people are catching them that way.

The other thing, he said, is children.

“Children are spreading these viruses with gusto with each other, and they’re bringing it home. And then you, if you have children, are spreading it to other people at your workplace.”

The best way to avoid colds and flu, in addition to continuing to wear a mask, is the age-old advice to wash your hands and not touch your face.

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Monitor And Treat Your Symptoms

Foxman says viruses that cause cold, flu, or COVID-19 can affect you in different ways. But they tend to cause some similar symptoms, such as stuffy nose, tiredness, or muscle aches.

It doesnt really matter which virus it is — you can treat mild symptoms the same way. Here are some things you can do:

  • Drink fluids
  • Sleep more
  • Ask your doctor about over-the-counter drugs, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen

Go to the ER right away if you cant breathe well. Foxman says viruses that cause flu or COVID-19 can damage your lungs. The common cold can lead to big problems another way — the tubes that bring air down to your lungs can narrow. You can get serious asthma-like symptoms. Wheezing can be life-threatening, because if those airways close, thats a problem, she says.

If you or a loved one gets serious symptoms, Foxman says you should head to the hospital. Call first to see if there are any special rules for people who have COVID-19. Heres what to watch for:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Ongoing chest pain or pressure
  • Trouble staying awake

What Is The Difference Between A Cold And Flu

Influenza and the common cold are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Flu is caused by influenza viruses only, whereas the common cold can be caused by a number of different viruses, including rhinoviruses, parainfluenza, and seasonal coronaviruses.Seasonal coronaviruses should not be confused with SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Because flu and the common cold have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are typically more intense and begin more abruptly. Colds are usually milder than flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose than people who have flu. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can have serious associated complications.

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Is It Possible To Have The Cold The Flu Rsv Or Covid

There have been some reports about people being infected with two concurrently. We do know that all of these viruses have the potential to shed for a long time, so it may be true that someone could test positive for both COVID-19 and RSV, but RSV is the only one causing symptoms. Theres not enough research or cases to truly understand these scenarios yet.

Complications Of A Cold

What to know about catching COVID-19 and the flu at the same time

Colds get better within a few days to weeks, whether or not a person takes medication. However, a cold virus can pave the way for other infections to invade the body, including sinus or ear infections and acute bronchitis. A common complication is a sinus infection with a prolonged cough. If you have asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema, the symptoms from those conditions may be worsened for many weeks even after the cold has gone away.

Post-infectious cough, usually without phlegm, may last for weeks to months after the cold goes away and may keep a person up at night. This cough has been associated with asthma-like symptoms, and can be treated with asthma medications. Consult a healthcare provider if you have this kind of cough.

Talk to a healthcare provider if you experience any of the following:

  • Unusually severe cold symptoms
  • Cough that gets worse while other cold symptoms improve or
  • Flare-up of any chronic lung problem, such as asthma.

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Urgent Advice: Get Advice From 111 Now If:

  • you’re worried about your baby’s or child’s symptoms
  • you’re 65 or over
  • you’re pregnant
  • you have a long-term medical condition for example, diabetes or a heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease
  • you have a weakened immune system for example, because of chemotherapy or HIV
  • your symptoms do not improve after 7 days

111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.

Go to or call 111.

Causes And Risk Factors Of Cold And Flu

The flu is caused by influenza viruses, but many distinct viruses can cause a cold.

Certain populations are more susceptible to getting a cold or the flu, including the very young, older adults, and people with a compromised immune system.

Factors that can increase your risk of becoming infected include:

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Covid Vs Flu Vs Common Cold Vs Rsv: What You Need To Know

With cold and flu season underway, plus the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, infectious disease specialist Jeffrey Bender, MD, shares how to tell the difference between the illnesses, and the most important thing parents can do to keep children safe.

Jeffrey Bender, MD, Attending Physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases, explains when to seek medical care, whether its possible to have multiple infections at the same time, and the importance of getting the flu vaccine.

How To Avoid Spreading The Flu

Is It Possible To Get Cold And The Flu At The Same Time? Here

Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people. You’re more likely to give it to others in the first 5 days.

Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.

To reduce the risk of spreading flu:

  • wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
  • bin used tissues as quickly as possible

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Signs And Symptoms Of Cold And Flu

Both the flu and colds affect the respiratory system, though flu symptoms are typically more severe than those of the common cold.

There are many different viruses that can cause a cold, but most of these viruses cause very similar cold symptoms, says Aaron E. Glatt, MD, chief of infectious diseases at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, New York.

Symptoms that the common cold and flu share may include:

  • body aches
  • nasal congestion
  • sneezing

“Run-of-the-mill colds usually make you feel lousy but should not interfere with daily activities,” says Stephen Russell, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

Strep Vs Covid Vs Cold

Strep Vs Covid Vs Cold. It is possible to have a cold and strep throat at the same time, as you can have both a viral. Symptoms of the common cold vs.

A high temperature is likely to indicate a flu. Both can give you a fever, cough, headaches, and body aches. However, it may be harder for.


The symptoms of a cold may come on gradually, while the flu usually starts abruptly. While sore throat can be a symptom of covid, strep throat is a separate illness with a different cause.


A runny or stuffy nose. Theres no cure for the common cold.


A runny or stuffy nose. Strep is just as contagious when sneezing, coughing, or touching the same things as someone else.


But common colds usually also come. Alongside the worry of being infected with covid, most people are likely to suffer with a cold during the winter months.


Omicron cases are climbing in the uk and experts have said that symptoms are likely to differ from the three traditional covid symptoms. With the flu season soon coming, its important to be aware of.


Theres no cure for the common cold. Someone with a cold may experience a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough and body aches.


But common colds usually also come. Loss of taste and smell.

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