Flu is here. How can you tell if you have the flu (influenza) or a common cold?
Last year the outbreak of influenza was widespread in 49 states. While the CDC recommends the flu vaccine as the best protection against the virus, educating yourself on the differences between the flu and the common cold can help quickly assess the need for simple rest at home to seeking more urgent medical care.
In general, the symptoms of the common cold are less severe than the flu. Symptoms set in slowly over a period of several days. Symptoms of the common cold include:
Mild cough and sneezing
The best way to prevent the common cold and influenza is to wash hands with soap regularly and avoid sick people. The typical common cold usually ends in 7-10 days. The worst symptoms of influenza last for several days, but usually by day 4 or 5 patients are feeling better.
The symptoms of the flu are much more intense than the common cold and include several distinctive markers. Symptoms also come on rapidly. Flu symptoms include:
High fever (100-102 degrees Fahrenheit)
Aches and pains (may be severe)
Getting the flu vaccine each year as well as washing your hands regularly will reduce your chance of getting the flu. Unlike other viruses, influenza is easily killed by soap and hot water. It’s also not too late to get the vaccine.
Medical experts also recommend not touching these seven things if you want to avoid the flu:
Airplane food trays and seat pockets
Subway turnstiles and ticket machines
Office coffee stations and water coolers
Liquid soap in restrooms
Salt and pepper shakers in restaurants
There is treatment for the flu, such as the drug Tamiflu, however these drugs are felt to be only moderately effective. Getting the flu vaccine will not prevent the flu all the time, but it is helpful. If you get the vaccine and get the flu you may experience more mild symptoms.
Knowing the difference between the common cold and the flu virus can help discern the proper path for treatment. However for an accurate diagnosis, it is important to seek out medical care. The professionals at FirstCare are available 7 days a week and no appointment is needed.