Is It A Cold The Flu Or Covid
The coronavirus epidemic has changed pretty much everything about life as we knew it, and the upcoming flu season is no exception. With COVID-19 still spreading in much of the country, wearing a mask and social distancing are as important as ever.
In fact, these precautions could also reduce the spread of flu and colds over the next few months, Dr. Walt Orenstein, professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, told TODAY. In addition to following coronavirus guidelines this winter, it’s also important to understand the subtle differences between the symptoms associated with cold, flu and COVID-19. Here’s a guide.
Earaches: Can Come From Colds Or Flu
Congestion from either ailment can make your ear pressure rise. This affects the eustachian tube, which connects your throat to your middle ear. It can cause a dull ear pain, hearing loss, and the sensation of âpoppingâ in your ears. It usually goes away with your other symptoms.
See your doctor if the earache lasts longer than your sickness or you feel sudden, strong pain. You may have an ear infection that needs treatment.
What Should I Know About The 2021
For starters, its important to know that its highly recommended that you get vaccinated against the flu even though last years flu season was mild, thanks, in large part, to many people masking, staying indoors, and taking other preventive measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
A minimal flu season last year doesnt mean were in the clear this year. In fact, weve already seen flu outbreaks this flu season, such as the massive outbreak at the University of Michigan campus. Dr. Agarwal says theres a possibility that outbreaks will continue throughout the flu season as people loosen up on illness-reducing behaviors like wearing face masks. And its important to remember that some people do end up with complications from the flu.
Flu viruses are always changing, so flu vaccine formulas are reviewed every year to best protect people against the viruses that are predicted to cause the most illness, according to the CDC. All of the vaccines available for the 2021-2022 flu season, whether theyre via nasal or needle administration, protect against the same four flu viruses circulating heavily right now.
According to the CDC, one vaccine isnt any better than the other, but if you have any questions about whether one might be best for you, then its always safest to talk to your doctor.
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How Can I Avoid Getting Influenza
Getting an influenza vaccine every year is recommended for everyone aged 6 months or older. People in the above groups are eligible for free flu vaccination each year under the National Immunisation Program.
While not 100% effective, the flu vaccine provides a high level of protection and can reduce symptoms in those still getting sick.
can be co-administered with a flu vaccine. There is no requirement for a time interval between these vaccines.
Wearing a face mask and practicing good hand hygiene can help to reduce your chances of catching the flu or passing it on to others.
Similarities And Differences Between Flu And Covid
According to the CDC, these symptoms frequently occur in both flu and COVID-19:
Fever , chills or feeling feverish
Muscle pain or body aches
The only symptom that occurs almost exclusively in COVID-19 is loss of to your taste and smell. “That is generally not seen with influenza, and if that happens, that really suggests you have COVID,” Orenstein explained.
That said, not everyone who contracts the coronavirus loses their taste or smell, so this isn’t a foolproof distinction. If you have any of the above symptoms and your taste and smell remain intact, it still could be COVID-19.
Similarly, sneezing is most common with colds, less common with flu and least associated with COVID-19. But the presence of sneezing doesn’t rule out COVID-19, Cioe-Pena said, adding, “nothing about this virus is absolute.”
A recent study suggests you might want to track the progression of your symptoms to distinguish flu and COVID-19: It found that fever was most likely to be the first symptom experienced by people with COVID-19 while a cough was most likely to be a first symptom of the flu. And though it may be rare, it is possible to contract COVID-19 and flu at the same time.
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What Causes The Common Cold
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
Researchers Have Pointed To A Specific Symptom Related To Covid
A COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a pop-up clinic sponsored by the Davis County Health Department in the parking lot of Kents Market in Clearfield on Wednesday, June 23, 2021.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Theres a simple COVID-19 symptom that indicates whether or not someone might have had the novel coronavirus despite being fully vaccinated sneezing.
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Extreme Fatigue Is A Telltale Sign Of The Flu
If youre dragging, or feeling extreme fatigue, its likely from the flu. Sometimes youll continue feeling run down for a few days even after other flu symptoms stop. On the other hand, a cold will rarely stop you from performing your day-to-day tasks.
Weve all had colds and know that you can get a mild fever, achiness or cough with it. But if you feel like youve been hit by a truck, its more likely that you have the flu.
Should I Go To The Doctor
Colds and flu are not treated with antibiotics and rarely require a trip to the doctor. While the flu can occasionally be life-threatening for those with reduced immunity, for most people the best remedy for a speedy recovery from a cold or flu is usually rest and plenty of fluids.
Dr. Kang recommends seeking medical attention if you experience shortness of breath or trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest or stomach, dizziness when standing, decreased urination, confusion, inability to keep fluids down, or a fever lasting more than 48 hours. If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your primary care doctor or urgent care as soon as possible.
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Key Facts About Influenza
Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices United States, 2022-2023 Influenza Season has been published. Related updates to this page are forthcoming. CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older in the United States should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exception. More information about the 2022-2023 flu season is also available.
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
Influenza can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- fever* or feeling feverish/chills
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.
Why is the 3% to 11% estimate different from the previously cited 5% to 20% range?
Who is most likely to be infected with influenza?
How is seasonal incidence of influenza estimated?
Mechanics Of A Sneeze
You would be amazed at the complex bodily process thats involved in a sneeze. Its a team effort with your nose, brain, diaphragm, and other muscles. At first, you feel a little tickle sensation in your nose and throat caused by dust or microbe irritation.
Your brain senses your discomforts and alerts your sneeze response in a fraction of a second. At your brains signal, your lungs quickly inflate with a deep breath, and you hold it. As your chest muscles expand and tighten, the air in your lungs is pressurized.
Immediately, your tongue presses against your palate, you close your eyes, and the compressed air is quickly blasted through your nostrils.
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Who Should Get The Flu Vaccine
Its recommended that everyone 6 months or older should get an influenza vaccine each year. You will protect yourself and other people around you. People who have any of the following conditions are at high risk of becoming seriously ill from influenza :
You also have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from influenza if you:
- Are younger than 2 years, or over 65 years old.
- Are pregnant and for 2 weeks after delivery
- Are under 19 years old and must take aspirin regularly.
- Live in a nursing home.
If you work in a healthcare facility, you may transmit influenza to patients and other workers, but you are not at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill. The recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is that everyone over the age of 6 months gets a flu vaccine if there are no contraindications. This includes individuals who are not at high risk.
How Is The Common Cold Different From Flu
Both are respiratory illnesses but they are caused by two very different viruses. Due to the similarity of symptoms, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between a cold and the flu initially. Only a laboratory test will give you a definitive answer but, there are some slight differences between them that can help you determine the difference.
Severity Symptoms for both include stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, fever and, body aches but they are much milder with a common cold than the flu. Common cold symptoms normally crop up and worsen gradually whereas fever symptoms hit hard and suddenly.
Fever With common colds a mild fever is rarely present. With the flu, fevers are normal and temperatures can reach 101° F or higher and be accompanied by body aches, pains and chills.
Duration A common cold lasts about ten days but the flu can last as long as three weeks.
The influenza virus also attacks the lungs, which can progress to a serious lung ailment. This is why people with chronic respiratory conditions are particularly vulnerable.
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When Should You See A Doctor About Sneezing
Most sneezing is rarely indicative of a serious problem but there may be a few instances where you should seek medical attention for yourself or a member of your family2,3:
- If symptoms last for more than 10 days
- If symptoms are severe or unusual
- If a child is younger than three months of age and is lethargic or has a fever
You should also contact your doctor if you are at high risk for serious flu complications. People who are considered high risk for these kinds of complications are young children under the age of 5, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.3
A medical professional will perform a physical exam and look at your nose and throat.1 You may have to answer questions about your symptoms and medical history. In some cases, allergy testing may be recommended to determine the cause of the sneezing if other illnesses are ruled out.1
How To Protect Others
If you have a cold, you should follow these tips to help prevent spreading it to other people:
- Stay at home while you are sick and keep children out of school or daycare while they are sick.
- Avoid close contact with others, such as hugging, kissing, or shaking hands.
- Move away from people before coughing or sneezing.
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue then throw it away, or cough and sneeze into your upper shirt sleeve, completely covering your mouth and nose.
- Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as toys, doorknobs, and mobile devices.
There is no vaccine to protect you against the common cold.
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What’s New With The 2021
There are many types of flu virusesand each consistently changes. This means that the U.S. flu vaccines are reviewed every year to prevent against the currently circulating flu viruses. This year’s vaccines are all “quadrivalent,”according to the CDC, meaning they’re designed to protect against four different viruses that cause the flu.
Causes Of The Common Cold
Many different respiratory viruses can cause the common cold, but rhinoviruses are the most common. Rhinoviruses can also trigger asthma attacks and have been linked to sinus and ear infections. Other viruses that can cause colds include respiratory syncytial virus, human parainfluenza viruses, adenovirus, common human coronaviruses, and human metapneumovirus.
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Colds: Otc Drugs Can Ease Symptoms
Drugstore medicines like decongestants, cough suppressants, and antihistamines can help congestion, coughing, and nasal symptoms. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen can treat pain or a headache.
Read the active ingredients and warnings on all product labels. Many cough and cold medicines have the same ingredients, so you could accidentally overdose unless you’re careful. Don’t give aspirin to a child under 18. Using it to treat the flu has been linked to a condition called Reyeâs syndrome in kids.
What To Expect With Influenza
Symptoms of the flu can hit very quickly and may last several weeks. A bout of the flu typically follows this pattern:
- Days 13: Sudden appearance of fever, headache, muscle pain and weakness, dry cough, sore throat and sometimes a stuffy nose.
- Day 4: Fever and muscle aches decrease. Hoarse, dry or sore throat, cough and possible mild chest discomfort become more noticeable. You may feel tired or flat.
- Day 8: Symptoms decrease. Cough and tiredness may last one to two weeks or more.
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Whats In A Flu Vaccine
There are three different influenza vaccine production technologies approved by the FDA: egg-based, cell-based, and recombinant flu vaccine.
The most common way that flu vaccines are made is using an egg-based manufacturing process, which has been used for more than 70 years., said Guste. Egg-based vaccine manufacturing is used to make both inactivated vaccines, usually called the flu shot, and live attenuated vaccines, usually called the nasal spray flu vaccine.’ In the inactivated vaccine, the virus particles lose their disease-producing capacity.
A common misconception is that getting a flu vaccine will cause you to get the flu.
Flu shots cannot cause flu illness, confirmed Guste. Flu shots are made with inactivated or killed viruses, and these virus particles lose their disease-producing capacity. The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are attenuated so that they will not cause illness.
Ways To Treat Your Cold And Flu Symptoms
Stay home and rest, especially while you have a fever.
Stop smoking, and avoid secondhand smoke.
Drink plenty of fluids like water, fruit juices, and clear soups.
Do not drink alcohol.
Gargle with warm salt water a few times a day if you have a sore throat. Throat sprays or lozenges may also help with the pain.
Use a nose spray to help loosen mucus and moisten the skin in your nose.
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Cold & Flu: Basic Symptoms & flu Brain
When it comes to colds and the flu, the cause of infection is often unknown. Was it little Susie? Or the doorknob at work? What comes next though, is all too familiar. The coughing, the sore throat, brain fog, crankiness, fatigue, stuffy nose, and aches. This is known collectively as sickness behavior. Cold and flu symptoms are often grouped together but the two can have some distinct differences.
Both the cold and flu viruses induce fatigue/weakness, a stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat pain and coughing, but the flu virus is characterized by an accompanying fever, headache, exhaustion and general body aches and pains.
As you lay there, unable to function or move properly, as haziness takes over your brain, you may be wondering, What is happening inside of my head? This is what I like to call flu brain.
Cold And Flu Prevention
As with any condition the best treatment is prevention. A person with the Flu can expose the virus to other people as far as 6 feet away through droplets spread when they talk, sneeze or cough. If you happen to inhale these droplets or they land on your nose or mouth you are now infected.
Strengthen Your Immune System Practice healthy living habits like exercising, getting a good night of sleep, staying hydrated, eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and managing stress. All these habits will help strengthen your immune system naturally and can help you ward off not just a cold or flu but other diseases as well.
Hygiene If you notice a co-worker or acquaintance appears to be sick, try to keep your distance. Dont get unnecessarily close. Touching commonly used and contaminated surfaces like doorknobs or handles, keyboards or other digital devices, countertops, etc. can transfer the virus to your hands. Avoid touching your nose or mouth and wash your hands regularly with soap and water several times per day.
If you are sick, be considerate and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette by using a tissue to cover your mouth and nose and throw it away. If you dont have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. Dont forget to wash your hands after. Consider using a face mask if you must be out in public and your symptoms include frequent coughing or sneezing.
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