Friday, September 29, 2023

Influenza Vs Flu Vs Cold

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What Is The Difference Between A Cold And Flu

Coronavirus Symptoms vs. 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.

Symptoms Of A Cold Vs The Flu

The flu and the common cold are both caused by a virus. The flu comes from one of four types of influenza viruses , while colds may come from many different types, one of the most common being rhinoviruses.

Youll usually feel better from a cold after seven to 10 days, while flu symptoms can linger for up to two weeks.

The cold and the flu have very similar symptoms, says Troy Madsen, MD, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Utah. But there are some key differences that can help you tell them apart:

What Are Treatments Medicines And Home Remedies For The Common Cold And The Flu

Treatment options, medicines, and home remedies for the common cold and flu are almost exactly the same except for a few items that pertain to the more severe disease, the flu.

  • Common treatments for both diseases include rest and treatment of symptoms as they occur fever is treated with acetaminophen. Symptoms can be managed with good hydration and over-the-counter cold/flu medications that include suppression of symptoms such as cough, congestion, nausea, and sore throat.
  • Medicines are usually over-the-counter cold/flu treatments that often are combinations of several drugs like acetaminophen , ibuprofen , various cough suppressants, and/or decongestants for the flu, some health care providers use drugs of the antiviral/neuraminidase inhibitor class , especially in severe infections.
  • Home remedies for colds and the flu are similar vitamin C, zinc, humidified air, steamy showers, gargling with saltwater, compresses to relieve sinus congestion and/or headaches, honey and lemon, ginger, and many other items have been recommended. It is best to check with your physician, especially if you have the flu, before relying on home remedies — the home remedies mainly reduce symptoms but do not cure the diseases.

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Prevention And Vaccination Are Key

A few simple steps can make a big difference in keeping you healthy and curbing the spread of COVID-19 and the flu:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue instead of your hands.
  • Stay home when youre sick.
  • Keep wearing a mask in public.

And for both viruses, theres one key way to protect yourself: vaccination.

All three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States are safe, effective and potentially life-changing. Though breakthrough cases of COVID-19 are possible, fewer than 0.005% of fully vaccinated Americans have experienced a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization or death.

Just be sure to get vaccinated against both COVID-19 and influenza, because getting just one of the vaccines wont protect you from the other virus.

The viruses that cause influenza are completely different from the virus that causes COVID-19, so they require different vaccines to help you build immunity to them, Dr. Englund explains.

A COVID-19 vaccine will not protect you against influenza and vice versa. So in this season of respiratory illness, its critically important for everybody to get both types of vaccines to be able to protect themselves and their families.

Could It Be A Cold Or Allergies

Cold Versus Flu

Like flu and COVID-19, colds are also caused by viruses and can be passed to others.

Symptoms of a cold tend to be mild. You may have a runny nose, cough, congestion, and sore throat. But you wont usually have the aches and fever that are common with COVID-19 and flu. Often, youll feel better in a couple of days.

Theres no cure for the common cold. Typical treatments include rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medicines. Some complementary treatments may help with cold symptoms, too. Taking honey may help with nighttime cough for children over 1 year old. Rinsing your nose and sinuses can help with congestion. You can use a neti pot or other nasal rinsing device. Be sure to only use water thats been properly processed, such as distilled or boiled water, not tap water. Nasal rinses can bring relief for both cold and allergies.

Allergies can cause a runny nose and sneezing. But theyre not contagious. If your eyes, nose, or ears itch, that also could be an allergy.

Exposure to things like dust, pets, and tree or grass pollen can trigger allergies, which are caused by the immune systemThe system that protects your body from invading viruses, bacteria, and other microscopic threats. overreacting.

Allergy symptoms tend to stop when youre no longer exposed to the cause. Unless you have asthma, allergies typically do not cause breathing problems. Allergies can be treated with drugs like antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal steroids.

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How Long The Flu And Covid

Typically, flu symptoms stick around for four or five days maybe even up to seven days, Dr. Englund says, while the CDC reports that people with mild to moderate COVID-19 remain infectious for about 10 days after symptom onset.

Some people continue to experience the effects of COVID-19 even after theyve stopped being contagious. Long-haulers, as theyre called, are those who still experience some sort of symptom 28 days or later after they were first infected.

Most people with either illness can recover at home with rest, fluids and over-the-counter medicines for fever or body aches, Dr. Englund says. But in some cases, they can both result in complications like pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome and inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissue. These complications are more likely to affect older adults and people with underlying medical conditions.

Additional complications associated with COVID-19 include blood clots and multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

If you contract either virus, its important to monitor your symptoms and stay in touch with your doctor.

What Causes Flu In Adults

Four types of influenza viruses exist. Types A and B cause epidemics of severe respiratory illnesses known as “the flu,” and type C causes a mild illness not associated with epidemics. Type D does not cause human disease. Type A has two different subtypes or strains, based on the chemical structure of the virus. The H1N1swine flu virus is a type A influenza virus. Type B is not divided into subtypes. Both type A and type B are responsible for the seasonal influenza outbreaks.

  • Outbreaks occur more frequently in the winter months. Many factors may play a role in this seasonal pattern:
  • The virus survives for longer periods indoors in winter because the relative humidity of indoor air is very low in comparison to the outside air.
  • The virus is in droplets that are coughed or sneezed it infects others via inhalation or by landing on sensitive body areas such as the eyes, nose, or mouth. These droplets generally travel no further than 6 feet.
  • In the winter, humans tend to be indoors more and thus have closer contact with each other, which makes it easier for the virus to spread.
  • A sudden increase in the number of school-aged children sick at home with flu-like illness may indicate the arrival of flu season. Similar infections in other age groups, especially among adults, soon follow this outbreak.
    • Sore throat and watery discharge from the nose or nasal congestion
    • Vomiting or diarrhea sometimes occurs, particularly in children

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    Is It Possible To Prevent Flu In Adults

    Personal Hygiene

    • Limit touching high-touch surfaces where flu viruses may remain alive examples include handrails, doorknobs, faucets, keyboards, and elevator buttons.
    • Wash your hands often, especially after touching high-touch surfaces, being in public places, or at work.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth before washing one’s hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who appear ill.
    • Do not share clothes or other personal items with another person during a flu outbreak.
    • Those infected with influenza should stay at home for 24 hours after fevers have resolved.

    Flu Vaccination

    The best means of preventing the flu is getting an influenza vaccination. The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older.

    Two general types of vaccines are available. One is the injectable vaccine made from inactivated virus. The flu shot contains only killed influenza viruses A and B. The other is a live attenuated influenza virus, or weakened, vaccine that health care providers squirt into the nose. This is the intranasal vaccine or nasal spray vaccine.

    The intranasal form is indicated for certain people who may prefer it to a shot, and it is approved for people from 2 through 49 years of age. Doctors do not recommend it for people who are immuno-suppressed or have other conditions .

    An important point is that no one vaccine is recommended over the others and one should not delay vaccination in order to wait for one of the others if there is a vaccine available.

    When Should I Call The Doctor About My Cold Or The Flu

    Cold vs. Flu vs. COVID-19

    If a person develops trouble breathing, has a severe sore throat, has a cough that produces green-colored mucus, has chest pain, or develops a high and persistent fever, that person should be seen by their doctor. If you suspect you have the flu and are pregnant, are over 50, have a weakened immune system for any reason, or have ongoing medical problems such as diabetes, you are at higher risk for developing complications due to the flu and should contact your physician. If you have a child under 2 years of age or have a friend or relative living in long-term care facility with flu-like symptoms, their doctors need to be notified.

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    Why Is Getting The Flu Shot Especially Important For Children

    I believe that everyone over 6 months of age should get the flu vaccine every year, as is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, but especially in the setting of COVID-19.

    All the things we have been doingwashing our hands, physically distancing, wearing masksare great for preventing the spread of the flu as well. The flu vaccine may not prevent you from getting the flu, but it does an amazing job at helping to prevent you from getting very ill, especially in younger kids who are at high risk for having more severe complications with the flu. Why not add another layer of protection by getting the flu vaccine? We should be doing everything we can to protect our children.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Flu Versus The Symptoms Of A Cold

    The symptoms of flu can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue . Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Stomach Flu

    They can include:

    In severe cases, days of throwing up and having diarrhea can cause your body to lose a lot of fluid. If you lose too much, you may need medical attention. Sometimes it can be life threatening. Signs to watch for include:

    • Lack of normal elasticity of the skin
    • Peeing less
    • Fewer tears

    You can avoid it by drinking plenty of liquids. When you can keep food down again, try bland things like toast, rice, bananas, and applesauce first. Go back to a normal diet within 24 hours if you can.

    How Long Do Cold Symptoms Last


    Cold symptoms usually last for about a week. During the first three days that you have cold symptoms, you are contagious. This means you can pass the cold to others, so stay home and get some much-needed rest.

    If cold symptoms do not seem to be improving after a week, you may have a bacterial infection, which means you may need antibiotics.

    Sometimes you may mistake cold symptoms for allergic rhinitis or a sinus infection. If cold symptoms begin quickly and are improving after a week, then it is usually a cold, not allergy. If your cold symptoms do not seem to be getting better after a week, check with your doctor to see if you have developed an allergy or sinusitis.

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    Covid Vs Flu Vs Common Cold: 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 three 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 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.

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    Cold Flu And Allergy Treatments

    Millions of people use over-the-counter products to relieve symptoms of cold, flu, and allergy, including nasal stuffiness and congestion, sneezing, runny noses, sore throat, and cough. The common causes of these symptoms include the viruses that cause the common cold, influenza virus, allergic rhinitis , and sinus infections . Viral infections can also cause headache, body aches, fatigue, and sometimes fever. Hay fever symptoms can also include itchy eyes, nose, and throat, and watery eyes.

    To benefit from OTC products for cold, flu, and allergy, it is important to understand the condition causing the symptoms, the predominant symptom one wishes to relieve, and the active ingredient in the product. Some OTC products contain a single active ingredient medication to relieve one symptom. Many others contain a combination of two, three, and even four active ingredient medications to treat several symptoms at once. Selecting the right product can be difficult at times.

    Myth: The Flu Vaccine Can Give You The Flu

    Coronavirus vs. flu: which is the bigger threat?

    The flu vaccine contains inactivated versions of a virus, and therefore, cannot infect your body. The flu vaccine typically includes three or four influenza virus strains, which are updated annually based on World Health Organization recommendations. Over 100 WHO-recognized National Influenza Centers around the world conduct extensive research and surveillance of viral activity to predict the flu strains most likely to spread in the upcoming flu season. Though you cannot contract the flu from the vaccine, side effects from the vaccine may be similar to those of the flu, such as soreness and swelling at the site of injection, nausea, headache, and fever, but these typically subside within a day or two.

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    How To Treat The Flu

    In most cases, fluids and rest are the best ways to treat the flu. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Over-the-counter decongestants and pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, may control your symptoms and help you feel better.

    However, never give aspirin to children. It can increase the risk of a rare but serious condition called Reyes syndrome.

    Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs oseltamivir , zanamivir , or peramivir to treat the flu.

    These drugs can shorten the duration of the flu and prevent complications such as pneumonia. However, they may not be effective if not started within 48 hours of getting sick.

    If youre at risk of complications from the flu, call your doctor when you first have symptoms. People at risk of serious complications include:

    • people over the age of 65
    • pregnant women
    • women who are two weeks postpartum
    • children under age of 2
    • children under age 18 taking aspirin
    • those with weakened immune systems due to HIV, steroid treatment, or chemotherapy
    • people who are extremely obese
    • people with chronic lung or heart conditions
    • people with metabolic disorders, such as diabetes, anemia, or kidney disease
    • people living in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes

    Contact your doctor right away if your symptoms do not improve or if they become severe. See your doctor if you have signs of pneumonia, including:

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