Is It A Cold Or Flu
Colds and the flu have some commonalities, but its important to know the differences and when to see a doctor. Both are common respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. Generally, the flu is worse than the common coldsymptoms are more intense and have a sudden onset.
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Covid Vs Flu Vs Common Cold Vs Rsv: What You Need To Know
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.
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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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.
Is It A Cold The Flu Or Covid
Download a printable PDF version of the Common Symptoms of a Cold, the Flu, and COVID-19 infographic .
The common cold, flu, and COVID-19 all have similar symptoms. Knowing the signs of a cold, the flu, and COVID-19 can help keep you and your loved ones safe.
These are common signs, but your symptoms may be more or less severe, or you may only have a few. If you feel sick, stay home and call your doctor to discuss how youre feeling and whether you need to get tested.
Older adults are more likely to become seriously ill from the flu and COVID-19. Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent some of these diseases.
Learn more about the flu and older adults.
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Colds And The Flu Treatment
Theres no cure for the common cold or the flu. Antibiotics do not work against the viruses that cause colds and the flu. The illness has to run its course. You can do some things to ease your symptoms. For a low fever, mild aches, and pains, take products such as acetaminophen , naproxen or ibuprofen . Drink plenty of fluids. Get as much sleep as you can. Stay home to avoid spreading germs to others.
Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine for the flu. This only shortens the length of time you are sick. These medicines come as pills, syrup or in an inhaler. The inhaled type may cause problems for some people who have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease . Some antiviral medicines can cause nausea and vomiting.
When easing a childs symptoms, acetaminophen can help ease pain and lower a fever. Be sure you are giving your child the correct dose according to his or her age and weight.
Nasal sprays and decongestants are not recommended for young children. They may cause side effects. Cough and cold medicines are not recommended for children. This is especially true for those younger than 2. There is little evidence that cough and cold medicines and nasal decongestants are effective in treating children.
Tips To Help You Know If It’s A Cold Or The Flu
The common cold and the flu are both upper respiratory infections. However, they are caused by different viruses and the symptoms may be more severe with the flu virus verses a cold.
Keep in mind that symptoms alone may not be enough to tell the difference between the two.
- A common cold can be caused by more than 200 viruses
- The seasonal flu is caused by the influenza A or B virus. This is why there is a vaccine available for the flu and not for colds.
- The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.
- The flu tends to occur in the colder months of the year.
- Symptoms of the flu are worse than the common cold and may include fever, chills, sore throat, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea .
- Fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common with the flu and more intense than when associated with a cold.
- The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated annually.
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What Is The Flu
The illness you get when you catch influenza varies widely, and depends on the person infected , the virus, and secondary bacterial infections that may follow infection with the virus. The flu virus can infect both the upper and lower respiratory tract, which in part explains its ability to cause severe disease.
Other medical conditions, age and a weakened immune system also play a big part in how much the flu virus will affect the host. Plus, a persons genetic makeup may predispose them to a more severe inflammatory response, known as a cytokine storm. Inflammation is a normal response that allows our body to fight infection and heal damaged tissue. Paradoxically, too much inflammation makes the illness from flu worse by causing more swelling and tissue destruction.
For the flu virus to bind to and infect cells in our respiratory tract it uses a molecule called hemagglutinin. Bird and swine flu strains, which cause pandemics in humans may have a haemagglutinin molecule on their surface that preferentially binds to receptors in the lower respiratory tract, including the tiny air sacs . These alveoli are responsible for transferring oxygen into and taking carbon dioxide out of the blood stream.
With Such Similar Symptoms Is There A More Definitive Way To Tell If Someone Has The Cold The Flu Rsv Or Covid
Unfortunately not without testing, and that is the challenge. With COVID-19, it appears that symptoms last longer and some individuals may experience fatigue and anosmiaa loss of smell and tastethat can persist for weeks. But for the most part, only testing can determine whether you have coronavirus or not.
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What Problems Can Happen
Some children are more likely to have problems when they get the flu, including:
- kids up to age 5, especially babies
- people with a weak immune system from medicines or illnesses or illnesses
- people with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes
- kids or teens who take aspirin regularly
- people who are very obese
- women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, just had a baby, or are breastfeeding
- people who live in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes
- people 65 years and older
If they get the flu, their illness can be more serious. They can develop pneumonia or get even sicker from other kinds of infections . If this happens, many will need medical care in the hospital. So it’s important for them not to be near anyone who has the flu or flu-like symptoms.
People who have flu symptoms should keep their distance from anyone who might get very sick if they catch the flu.
So Why Are There More Flu Deaths
Both the common cold and flu can cause similar respiratory illnesses, and exacerbate underlying medical conditions. Important in both cold and flu is how the persons immune system is functioning, and the part of the airway infected.
In patients with flu, infection of both the upper and lower respiratory tract, the resulting local and systemic inflammatory response evoked by the virus, and the secondary consequences of infection are important determinants of how sick we get.
And these are in turn dependent on a combination of viral, bacterial and patient factors, including how effectively the virus infects, replicates and triggers the immune response, and the ensuing tissue inflammation and damage. Together, these can mean a person with the flu can have a spectrum of illness, from no symptoms at all to being potentially fatal.
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Is The Flu Contagious
The flu is very contagious. People can spread it from a day before they feel sick until their symptoms are gone. This is about 1 week for adults, but it can be longer for young kids.
The flu usually happens in annual epidemics. An epidemic is when an illness spreads quickly and infects lots of people in an area at the same time. Some years the epidemic is more severe and widespread than others. An epidemic that spreads worldwide is called a pandemic. This is far less common. There were three influenza pandemics in the 20th century, and one so far in the 21st century, in 2009 with influenza A .
During the coronavirus pandemic, experts found that wearing masks can help protect the community from the spread of germs. They recommended that all children age 2 and up wear a mask when out in public or around people who don’t live with them. Wearing masks can also help stop the spread of flu.
Will This Flu Season Be Worse Than Usual
Vaxx Populi: In 2020-21, Canada saw just 69 confirmed cases of influenza. Some experts worry we may have lower immunity to the flu, after nearly two years of social distancing.
By Patricia TrebleOctober 20, 2021
A pedestrian walks by a sign in a store window encouraging people to receive a seasonal flu shot in Toronto on Tuesday, October 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Evan Buhler
The email from FluWatchers arrives in my inbox every Tuesday morning, asking me to click through to a Health Canada website to answer two questions: have I had 1) a fever or 2) a cough in the past week? The entire process takes five seconds. Im one of tens of thousands of volunteers from across the country who answer that brief weekly survey , a low-tech but key part of the national flu surveillance system.
For those who shrug off influenza as nothing more than a bad cold, consider this data from Statistics Canada: Between 2015 and 2019, on average, influenza and pneumonia was the sixth-leading cause of death in the country, killing an estimated 7,333 Canadians annually. Like COVID, it hits the most vulnerable hardest, yet it is also capricious, striking the young and healthy as well.
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What Are The Differences Between Cold & Flu
There’s a lot of overlap between cold and flu symptoms. We’ll help you figure out whether that bug you’re fighting is cold or flu and how to tackle it so you can start feeling better sooner.
While both the common cold and the flu are respiratory illnesses, they are not caused by the same viruses. Although colds are inconvenient, they are far less likely to develop into anything more serious, as the flu can.
How To Treat A Cold
Because a cold is a viral infection, antibiotics are not effective at treating it.
A 2015 study in BMC Family Practice found that high-dose zinc lozenges could shorten the length of colds if taken within 24 hours of showing symptoms.
Vitamin C doesnt seem to prevent colds, but if you take it consistently, it might lessen your symptoms, according to a 2013 Cochrane review. Echinacea in BMJ found vitamin D helps protect against both colds and flu.
Colds usually clear up within 7 to 10 days. See a doctor if:
- your cold hasnt improved in about a week
- you start to run a high fever
- your fever doesnt go down
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Things You Can Do To Keep Yourself And Your Family Safe
There are a few steps that you can take before, during and possibly after catching the flu to help limit its impact on yourself and others.
- Know what signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for .
- Get your flu vaccine when its time. Do not wait. The annual flu shot is for almost everyone over the age of 6 months.
- Continue to practice good hand hygiene.
- If you are sick, stay at home and away from places like work or school to limit its spread.
Can The Flu Be Prevented
There’s no guaranteed way to avoid the flu. But getting the flu vaccine every year can help. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get it each year.
Most doctor’s offices, clinics, and drugstores offer the flu vaccine from September to mid-November. It’s best to get it before the end of October. But even if you don’t get it at the start of the flu season, it’s not too late to get one while the flu is still going around.
If your child is sick, has a fever, or is wheezing, talk to your doctor to see if you need to reschedule the flu vaccine.
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Smoking Or Being Around Smokers
Whatever kind of smoking you and your friends do, try to keep it at bay as much as possible while you’re sick. You may not realize it, but you could be making your illness worse.
“The last thing you should do when you have the flu is smoke cigarettes or surround yourself in a room full of smokers,”Dr. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, physician and health and wellness expert, tells Bustle. “The noxious chemicals in cigarettes will act as a potent irritant that only worsens your respiratory symptoms.” You don’t want that cough and sore throat to last any longer than they must, so try your best to avoid smoking.
Study Concludes Omicron Is No Worse Than Flu Or Cold
The first major study of the Omicron COVID variant, conducted by Professor Robert Dingwall from Nottingham Trent University in Britain, has concluded that it is no worse than the flu or cold.
The National Post reports that Dingwall, who also works as a senior advisor for the British government, studied over 98,000 Omicron cases in South Africa.
He found that hospitalizations from Omicron were 29% lower than the original Wuhan strain.
And when comparing Omicron to the more recent Delta variant, hospitalizations were 23% lower and ICU admissions for Omicron were 5% compared to 22% for Delta.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Dingwall said:
My gut feeling is that Omicron is very much like the sort of flu pandemic we planned for a lot of sickness absence from work in a short period, which will create difficulties for public services and economic activity, but not of such a severity as to be a big problem for the NHS and the funeral business.
Dingwall went on to describe the panic in the West surrounding Omicron as absurd, as doctors are already noticing that cases are not as serious.
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Duration Of Cold And Flu
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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