Is It The Flu A Cold Or Covid
The common cold, flu, and COVID-19 can all cause similar symptoms. If you have symptoms, talk with your health care provider. Your provider can help determine the cause of your illness and help you take steps to feel better.
A cold is often milder than the flu. The flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, but COVID-19 spreads more easily and symptoms tend to be more severe. It’s also more common to have a change in your sense of smell or taste with COVID-19.
People with the flu can have fever, chills, dry cough, general aches and pains, and a headache. They feel very tired. Sore throat, sneezing, stuffy nose, or stomach problems are less common. What some people call “stomach flu” is not influenza. Learn more about the differences between the flu and a cold and flu and COVID-19.
Ok So What Is An Incubation Period
It’s important to point out that an incubation period isn’t unique to the flu. COVID-19, for example, also has an incubation period, as do plenty of other infectious diseases.
“An incubation period is basically the timeframe from when you are exposed to some kind of pathogen to when you start showing signs or symptoms of that that disease process,” Erik Blutinger, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Mount Sinai Queens, tells Health. So, if you pick up the flu from a friend who is sick, the time between when you hung out and when you start showing symptoms is the incubation period.
Your body begins mounting a response to the virus as soon as you’re exposed to it, through something called your innate immune system, or the one you were born with that helps keep harmful materials from entering your body. Once the virus gets past the innate immune systemafter the virus has had time to multiply in your bodyyour more targeted adaptive immune system kicks in, and you symptoms ramp up.
When To See Your Gp
Consider visiting your GP if:
- you’re 65 years of age or over
- you’re pregnant
- you have a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease or a neurological disease
- you have a weakened immune system for example because you’re having chemotherapy or have HIV
- you develop chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or start coughing up blood
- your symptoms are getting worse over time or haven’t improved after a week
In these situations, you may need medication to treat or prevent complications of flu. Your GP may recommend taking antiviral medicine to reduce your symptoms and help you recover more quickly.
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How Long Are You Contagious With The Flu
The flu is contagious 1-2 days before symptoms start and up to 5-7 days after symptoms have developed. You are usually the most contagious during the first 3-4 days of experiencing symptoms. Young children and people who have weak immune systems may be contagious for longer.
Both the severity and duration of flu symptoms vary from person to person. For most people, the flu resolves within a week, but symptoms can last up to 10 days or more for others.
Protecting Yourself And Others
Most people know they should stay home when they are sick with something like the flu . However, it’s pretty difficult to avoid passing the virus if you don’t even know you have it yet.
This is one of the reasons flu vaccines are so important. If you are vaccinated against the flu, your body will have a chance to fight it off before it spreads in your body and you are less likely to pass it on to other people or get sick yourself.
If you do get sick, stay home.
Know when to call in sick to work, wash your hands frequently, and make sure those that come into contact with you do the same. Cover your cough and do everything you can to avoid being around people that are at high risk for serious complications from the flu.
Preventing the spread of the flu virus is up to all of us. Even if you think it won’t be serious for you if you get it, it might be for someone you pass it to.
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How Is The Flu Treated During Pregnancy
If you think you have the flu even if youve been vaccinated, call your health care provider right away. She may prescribe an antiviral medicine to help prevent or treat the flu. Antivirals kill infections caused by viruses. They can make your flu milder and help you feel better faster. Antivirals also can help prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. For flu, antivirals work best if you take them within 2 days of having symptoms. Quick treatment with antiviral medicine can help prevent serious flu complications.
If youve had close contact with someone who has the flu during your pregnancy or in the 2 weeks after giving birth, tell your health care provider. Even if you dont have signs or symptoms of flu, your provider may want to treat you with an antiviral medicine to help prevent you from getting the flu and having serious complications.
Three medicines are approved in the United States to prevent or treat the flu in pregnant women and women who recently had a baby. Talk to your provider about which one is right for you:
Why Is The Flu So Harmful During Pregnancy
The flu can be dangerous during pregnancy because pregnancy affects your immune system, heart and lungs. Your immune system is your bodys way of protecting itself from illnesses and diseases. When your body senses something like a virus that can harm your health, your immune system works hard to fight the virus.
When youre pregnant, your immune system isnt as quick to respond to illnesses as it was before pregnancy. Your body knows that pregnancy is OK and that it shouldnt reject your baby. So, your body naturally lowers the immune systems ability to protect you and respond to illnesses so that it can welcome your growing baby. But a lowered immune system means youre more likely get sick with viruses like the flu.
Another reason the flu can be harmful during pregnancy is that your lungs need more oxygen, especially in the second and third trimesters. Your growing belly puts pressure on your lungs, making them work harder in a smaller space. You may even find yourself feeling shortness of breath at times. Your heart is working hard, too. Its busy supplying blood to you and your baby. All of this means your body is stressed during pregnancy. This stress on your body can make you more likely to get the flu. If youre pregnant or had a baby within the last 2 weeks, youre more likely than other women to have serious health problems from the flu.
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Don’t Forget Your Flu Shot Protect Yourself And Others This Flu Season
The flu isnt like the common cold, it can hit quickly and last for weeks. For some people, the flu can have serious and devastating outcomes. Its important everyone in the community plays their part in helping stop the spread of flu.
Our message is simple: Don’t forget your flu shot. Protect yourself and others this flu season.
How Is The Flu Treated
Most kids with flu get better at home. Make sure your child:
- drinks lots of liquids to prevent dehydration
- gets plenty of sleep and takes it easy
- takes acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve fever and aches. Don’t give kids or teens aspirin because of its link to Reye syndrome.
- wears layers that are easy to remove. Kids might feel cold one minute and hot the next.
Children with the flu should stay home from school and childcare until they feel better. They should go back only when they haven’t had a fever for at least 24 hours without using a fever-reducing medicine. Some kids need to stay home longer. Ask the doctor what’s best for your child.
Doctors may prescribe antiviral medicine for a very ill child or kids are at risk for more serious symptoms. The medicine can shorten the flu by 12 days. It works best if children start taking it within 48 hours of the start of the flu. If a doctor prescribes antiviral medicine for your child, ask about any possible side effects. Doctors won’t prescribe antibiotics for the flu. Antibiotics work only against bacteria, not viruses.
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Rest Is Key To Recovering From The Flu
If you get the flu, be sure to stay hydrated. You can also take medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help reduce the severity of your symptoms, such as fever and body aches.
Hydration and symptom management arent enough, however. The key to recovering from the flu as fast as possible is to get plenty of rest. By resting during the day, your body will be able to devote more resources to fighting the virus.
Sleep is also important. Sleep gives your body the opportunity to focus on strengthening your immune system. Research tells us that your body uses the time you sleep to develop key proteins in your brain. These specialized proteins are designed to boost your immune system so youre better equipped to fight off infections.
How Long Is The Incubation Period Of The Flu
There’s no exact time frame that’s the same for every person with the flu but, in general, the CDC says that the incubation period of the flu can range between one and four days, with the average length of time being two days.
People with the flu are the most contagious the first three to four days after they were infected, per the CDC, which can coincide with the incubation period. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others starting the day before they show symptoms, and continue to be infectious up to seven days after they become sick, the CDC adds.
“People have the flu and are out and about doing their regular stuff, coming into contact with others before they get sick,” Dr. Boling says. “You can infect plenty of people during that time.”
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How Does The Flu Virus Spread
The flu spreads through a process known as viral shedding. A virus replicates inside a cell, and the viruses mix with mucus and saliva and find their way outside through droplets that escape when you cough or sneeze.
Droplets with the virus can stay suspended in the air and infect anyone nearby who inhales them. The virus can also be spread when an infected person touches their face and then touches surfaces like doorknobs and desktops. The objects that allow the settling of the virus and help in its transmission are known as fomites. When a healthy person touches these fomites and then their face with the same hand, the virus can enter their respiratory system and cause flu.
How Serious Is The Flu
Most people who get the flu feel better after a few days to two weeks. However, the flu can be serious, and some people will develop other health issues, called complications, because of the flu. Complications can be mild, such as a sinus or ear infection, or more serious, like pneumonia.
Anyone can get sick from the flu, but some people are more likely to have complications. You are more at risk for flu and its complications if you:
- Are age 65 or older
- Have certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease
- Have heart disease or have had a stroke
- Live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
Pregnant women and children younger than five years old are also more likely to get very sick from the flu. Learn more about people at increased risk for flu and its complications.
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Vitamin Cif You Take It At This Specific Time
Your mom probably told you to drink a glass of orange juice when you felt sniffles coming on. Turns out there is some science behind that advice. “The first thing I reach for when I feel a cold coming on is vitamin C,” says Dr. Kelly Bay. “Studies have shown that taking vitamin C within the first 24 hours of symptoms can lessen the length and severity of the cold.”
When Are You Contagious
Another factor that contributes to how the flu spreads is when exactly you may be contagious. Unlike many common illnesses that are only contagious when you’re experiencing symptoms, the flu can be contagious 24 hours before your symptoms appear, so you’re likely out there spreading the virus before you ever know that you have it. Add that to the number of people who try to push through their symptoms and expose others to their germs when they are sick, and it’s easy to see why the flu affects so many people each year.
After symptoms start, adults can spread the virus for five to 10 days. However, the amount of virus spread decreases significantly after three to five days. Adults are most contagious with the flu from 24 hours before symptoms start to three to five days afterward.
Children can spread the virus for longerup to 10 days, and sometimes even beyond that. People who have serious immune system problems can spread influenza for weeks, or even months, after they get it.
Flu symptoms generally don’t come on gradually. More often, people describe the onset of the flu as if they were “hit by a truck.” You feel fine, and then suddenly, an hour later, you feel like you can hardly move. The flu is definitely not just a bad coldit is something else entirely.
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How Long Does Flu Last And Is It Serious
If you have flu, you generally start to feel ill within a few days of being infected.
You should begin to feel much better within a week or so, although you may feel tired for much longer.
You’ll usually be most infectious from the day your symptoms start and for a further 3 to 7 days. Children and people with weaker immune systems may remain infectious for longer.
Most people will make a full recovery and won’t experience any further problems, but elderly people and people with certain long-term medical conditions are more likely to have a bad case of flu or develop a serious complication, such as a chest infection.
Read more about the complications of flu
What Are The Side Effects Of Flu Vaccines
The flu vaccine is safe and cannot give you the flu. Most people have no problem with a flu vaccine.
The most common side effects are soreness, redness, or swelling where you were vaccinated. Some people also get a headache, fever, nausea, or muscle aches. These side effects may start shortly after getting the vaccine and can last up to two days. They typically do not get in the way of daily activities.
Even people with mild egg allergies can safely get most flu vaccines. Egg-free flu vaccines are also available. You should not get vaccinated if you have had a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine in the past. Talk with your health care provider about your options for flu vaccines and side effects.
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How Do I Avoid Getting The Flu In The First Place
Even before someone has symptoms, they can spread the flu by sneezing, coughing and talking. These actions release tiny droplets containing the flu virus into the air. You can become infected if these droplets land in your nose, eyes or mouth.
You can also become infected if you touch any of these body parts after touching an object contaminated with the flu, like doorknobs, phones or someones hands.
Prevention is key to tackling the flu. The flu vaccination is the most important thing you can do to avoid getting the flu yourself and spreading it to others.
Its also important to wash your hands with soap and water after exposure to anyone who has fever, runny nose, coughing, difficulty breathing, or is sneezing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
If you have a cough or are sneezing, make sure you do your part to stop the spread of germs. Watch the video below.
How to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing:
- Never cough into your bare hand!
- Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
- Dispose of the tissue immediately. Dont save it for later.
- If you dont have a tissue, tuck your nose and mouth into the crook of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often, using soap and water or hand sanitizer
People At Higher Risk From Flu
Anyone can get sick with flu, even healthy people, and serious problems related to flu can happen to anyone at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions , pregnant people and children younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2 years old.
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