What Causes Colds And The Flu
More than 100 different viruses can cause colds. There arenât as many viruses that cause the flu. Thatâs why there is a shot for the flu and not for colds. To keep from getting the flu, all children between six months and five years of age, adults older than 50 years, and people with asthma or lung problems should get a flu shot every October or November.
What To Do When Its Not The Flu: Treating A Flu
People often use the term flu to describe any illness that causes many of the same symptoms of flu. But they may actually have whats called a flu-like illness. A flu-like illness causes many of the same symptoms as the flu but is caused by something other than the flu virus.So, how can you tell if what you have is the flu and what can you do to feel better? Heres what you need to know
What Are The First Signs Of The Flu
Find the first signs to recognize if you might have the flu.
The flu seems like it comes out of nowhere. One day, you’re living life as normal and then the next you’re down with a fever, body aches, nasal congestion and other unpleasant symptoms. However, there are some specific signs you can watch out for as early symptoms of the flu. The flu, or the influenza virus, can cause mild to severe illness and can even lead to hospitalization or even death.1 The flu is highly contagious and you may be able to spread it to other people before you know you’re sick as well as while you’re presenting symptoms.1 This is one of the reasons it’s important to recognize early signs and symptoms of the flu. The earlier you can recognize it, the earlier you can take action to avoid spreading it.
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Visit University Urgent Care Fort Worth For Flu Treatment
If you experience any of these first signs of the flu, visit a healthcare provider. Prescription antiviral medications can ease symptoms of the flu and shorten the lifespan of your illness. But they need to be taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. If youve been diagnosed with the flu, several at-home treatment options will help promote healing and get you back on your feet as fast as possible. Be sure to take care of yourself in the following way:
- Hydrate, you should be drinking fluids around the clock to prevent dehydration.
- Use a humidifier to ease nasal congestion.
- Take over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen medications for pain and fever.
Even if your condition is diagnosed early on, it can take up to three weeks to fully recover from the flu. Take your time. Doing too much too soon can lead to secondary illnesses, such as ear infections, sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia. If your symptoms continue to worsen three to four days after the onset, seek medical care immediately.
Other signs that you need to be seen by a healthcare professional include:
The First Signs Of Flu
The first few days of flu
While flu shares many of the symptoms of the common cold, the early signs of flu are often a sudden fever, aches or pains, weakness or a loss of appetite.
In particular, having a cough and a fever together can be a good indication that you have flu. With the flu, your symptoms may appear suddenly and you may have a higher than normal temperature for the first 3 4 days. You may also have a headache or pains in your muscles and joints, and feel drained and tired for up to 3 weeks afterwards.
However, the main difference between a cold and the flu is how it affects you. While you may be able to carry on working or going to the gym with a cold, the flu may make you feel too ill to follow your usual routine.
How Cold And Flu Can Affect Your Everyday Life
When your body is busy fighting the infection, it’s common to feel lethargic. You may also find it harder to concentrate at work or carry out everyday tasks. In fact, almost half of cold and flu sufferers slow down or take a break from their normal routine during their cold or flu.
While the first signs of a cold or flu can turn everyday life on its head, eating healthily, drinking plenty of fluids and resting, can all help you to get back to normal and get your spark back.
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Scientists Used Chinese Data
To predict the order of symptoms, researchers analyzed rates of symptom incidence collected by the World Health Organization for more than 55,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in China.
They also looked at a data set of almost 1,100 cases collected between December 2019 and January 2020 by the China Medical Treatment Expert Group for COVID-19 and provided by the National Health Commission of China.
To compare the order of COVID-19 symptoms to influenza, the researchers analyzed data from more than 2,000 influenza cases in North America, Europe, and the Southern Hemisphere reported to health authorities between 1994 and 1998.
The order of the symptoms matters, said Joseph Larsen, lead study author and USC Dornsife doctoral candidate. Knowing that each illness progresses differently means that doctors can identify sooner whether someone likely has COVID-19, or another illness, which can help them make better treatment decisions.
According to the studys findings, this is the order of symptoms that people with COVID-19 can experience:
The study found that patients with seasonal flu more commonly developed a cough before the onset of fever, Dr. Robert Glatter, emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told Healthline. In reality, this may be difficult to discern since the flu often begins abruptly with a triad of symptoms, including back pain, chills, along with a dry cough.
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.
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How To Prevent A Cold Flu And Covid
For most people, having a cold, the flu or COVID doesnt require a trip to the emergency room. Most symptoms resolve after some much-needed rest, but that isnt always the case.
To decrease your chances of catching a cold, flu or COVID, remember to wash your hands frequently. Washing with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds can help get rid of the germs on your skin.
Avoid contact with people who are sick. And if you become sick, stay home to keep from infecting others.Remember, the best way to prevent the flu and COVID-19 is by getting vaccinated, says
Dr. Martin. The symptoms may be similar and having both viruses at one is possible. This is something youll want to avoid, especially older adults, young children and those with certain medical conditions.
How To Treat Flu Symptoms
In most cases, the best things to do when you have the flu are:
- Rest at home.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Avoid contact with other people.
Your doctor might give you prescription medications called antiviral drugs if youâre at higher risk of complications, such as if you:
- Are very sick or have other medical conditions
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What If I’m Worried About My Symptoms
Most people can be treated for Covid at home, as with any other mild respiratory illness. You should get plenty of rest and drink water to keep hydrated.
You can take paracetamol to relieve headaches and muscle aches or pains, but antibiotics won’t work against viral infections like Covid.
If you’re having trouble breathing, contact your doctor, or use the NHS 111 coronavirus service online.
If you’re very worried about sudden shortness of breath, call 999.
The NHS also advises:
- if your child seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there’s something seriously wrong, call 999
- don’t delay getting help if you’re worried, trust your instincts
Broad Range Of Symptoms
Glatter shared his experience treating patients with COVID-19 in New York City.
In general, while fever is usually the most commonly described initial symptom of COVID-19 infection, the reality of what I see on the front lines is more variable, he said.
In fact, some patients may present only with loss of taste or smell and otherwise feel well, Glatter said. I have also seen patients present with COVID-toes, or chilblains. A livedo-type of skin reaction in response to acute inflammation, in the absence of fever, cough or other respiratory symptoms.
Glatter said that other patients have also presented with malaise, headache, and dizziness, that in some ways resemble the symptoms of stroke, but without fever, cough, or any evidence of upper respiratory symptoms.
I have also seen patients present only with chest pain, devoid of any respiratory symptoms, he said. The onset of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea after onset of respiratory symptoms such as fever and cough may also suggest that a person may have COVID-19.
According to Glatter, the bottom line is that healthcare professionals need to be vigilant and keep an open mind when evaluating patients who may have symptoms associated with the disease. They dont always present according to the book, so you must cast a wide net when thinking about who may or may not have COVID-19, he said.
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Body Aches And Chills: Take Them Seriously
It might start as a headache. Then, slowly but surely, your entire body starts to ache. And pretty soon, moving even a muscle can be painful. You may blame your achiness which commonly manifests in the legs, back or head on a recent workout or the yardwork you did over the weekend. However, body aches are another early sign that the flu might be headed your way in fact, those not-so-fun, all-over body aches are often an indication that your body is releasing inflammatory chemicals to help your white blood cells fight off infection. So, dont brush off these symptoms — give your body a much-needed break and take a warm bath to help soothe sore and uncomfortable muscles.
In addition to aches and pains, chills are another tell-tale sign that your body may be fighting off a virus. In fact, chills are often one of the first symptoms that people notice when theyre coming down with the flu. Thats because when the immune system first recognizes an invader that threatens the bodys equilibrium, it quickly jumps into action and produces heat through rapid muscle contraction and relaxation to try to fight the infection. These rapid muscle contractions result in the chills or shivers we know well. Many people believe that chills only occur when a fever is present, but thats not always the case. Most often, chills actually precede a fever and can even occur without one.
When To Seek Immediate Care For The Flu
The flu can be a serious illnesseven a deadly one. Some symptoms of the flu in adults and children can be signs that the infection is serious enough to require immediate medical care.
If you or your child is sick with the flu and cannot breathe, has a high fever, cannot stop vomiting, or becomes confused, go to the emergency room.
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How Can Doctors Tell If You Have Flu Or Flu
The flu is diagnosed from a swab test of your nose or throat. Flu-like illness is a clinical diagnosis, meaning it doesnt involve an official test. A doctor simply decides by examining you.
Flu-like illness can be the diagnosis when doctors arent sure what virus is at play since signs and symptoms of bad colds and several other respiratory viruses can be difficult to distinguish from the flu.
Flu-like illness can include other respiratory viruses that could make people feel that way — common cold viruses, RSV, parainfluenza, even rhinovirus — the most common cause of the common cold, says Angela Campbell, MD, a medical officer in the CDCs Flu Division in Atlanta. All can cause symptoms similar to the flu.
Michael Ison, MD, a professor of infectious diseases and organ transplantation at Northwestern University in Chicago, says regardless of the cause, treatment is similar.
What influenza-like illness is saying to us is that you have a virus likely affecting your respiratory system that is making you feel crummy and, currently aside from influenza, there arent good therapies for these other viruses, so we just treat the symptoms, he says.
An flu-like illness diagnosis can also mean your doctor thinks you have the flu but doesnt see the point in doing an official flu test.
Understanding Progression Of Symptoms Is Key
Its critically important to understand the progression of symptoms of people with the COVID-19 infection so you stop the spread of the disease in effect, isolate and then initiate effective contact tracing, Glatter said. This is quite relevant for a virus that is 2 to 3 times more transmissible than influenza, leading to outbreaks in clusters.
He also said that understanding the first symptoms not only helps patients seek testing more rapidly, but also to begin physically distancing themselves after the first symptoms begin.
It also underscores the importance of wearing masks and hand hygiene upon learning of symptoms, Glatter said.
He also finds that sudden loss of smell and taste and inflammatory skin reactions like chilblains may be important clinical clues that may distinguish COVID-19 from seasonal influenza.
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Should You Go To The Er For Cold And Flu Symptoms
- Should You Go to the ER for Cold…
The common cold typically lasts between seven to 10 days, and common cold treatments are often nothing more than rest and over-the-counter symptom management medications.
When treatments for the common cold arent working and you or a loved one is experiencing flu-like symptoms, here are some reasons when your common cold symptoms could be a sign of something worse, and when you should think about heading to the ER.
How Do You Treat Flu Vs Flu
In 2018, the Infectious Diseases Society of America released updated guidelines to help doctors diagnose and treat the flu and flu-like illnesses during outbreaks.
The CDC says antiviral drugs can treat confirmed and suspected flu. They can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by a day or two. The agency says they are most effective when taken within 48 hours of the start of symptoms, although they can still help fight severe flu complications when given after that. The FDA approved a new flu drug –– baloxavir marboxil — in late 2018. Ison says it is approved for acute uncomplicated influenza and for patients at risk for complications. Other antiviral drugs approved by the FDA include:
Doctors say its also important to know that antibiotics wont help with the flu or ILI since they only treat bacterial infections.
Whether you have the flu or flu-like illness, doctors also recommend that you:
A lot of patients want to go home with antibiotics, but a flu-like illness means it is more than likely being caused by a virus, so you dont need an antibiotic, says Ison, the Northwestern professor. Getting an antibiotic you dont need can cause antibiotic resistance to develop, and then if you get pneumonia, for example, we may not have good drugs or any drugs to treat the infection.
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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.
What Is The Difference Between Influenza And Covid
Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus first identified in 2019. Flu is caused by infection with a flu virus .
From what we know, COVID-19 spreads more easily than flu. Efforts to maximize the proportion of people in the United States who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines remain critical to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. More information is available about COVID-19 vaccines and how well they work.
Compared to flu, COVID-19 can cause more serious illnesses in some people. COVID-19 can also take longer before people show symptoms, and people can remain contagious for longer periods of time. More information about differences between flu and COVID-19 is available in the different sections below.
You cannot tell the difference between flu and COVID-19 just by looking at the symptoms alone because they have some of the same symptoms. Thats why testing is needed to tell what the illness is and to confirm a diagnosis. Testing is also important because it can reveal if someone has both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.
While more is learned every day about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it, there are still things, such as post-COVID conditions , that are unknown. This page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.
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