Is it the Flu or Just a Cold?
By Amy Silva
People oftentimes talk about influenza and common colds as though they're interchangeable. You've probably heard someone say that they're sick with the flu, but it doesn't seem as though they're that sick. Others may be showing signs of severe symptoms and say they have a cold. Influenza, or flu, and the common cold both affect the respiratory system and may have similar symptoms, but they're caused by different viruses. Below are some ways to tell which you might have if you're feeling under the weather, and if you should schedule a visit to see your doctor or ride it out.
The flu and the common cold can share these symptoms:
- Runny or stuffed up nose
- Sore throat
Although some symptoms of the flu and common cold are the same, they're typically milder than those of the flu. In addition to those shared, a person may feel slightly tired or have sneezing as another symptom. One can sometimes feel a cold coming on beforehand. A slightly irritated throat, feeling sleepy or a stuffy nose gradually getting worse as the day goes on are a few signs you may be getting sick with a cold. Colds aren't usually cause for serious concern and rarely have the potential to cause additional health problems, unlike influenza.
Influenza infections may come on quickly and not show warning signs. Symptoms that differ from the common cold and are a sign of the flu are extreme fatigue that make it difficult to stay awake or get out of bed, vomiting, fever, chills and body aches, to name a few. Influenza can linger for two weeks in some cases. In some cases, pneumonia can develop and become life-threatening
What You Can Do to Stop the Spread of Germs
You can be proactive by washing your hands often, especially when at work or in public places. Even if you do pick up germs after touching a cart or door handle, washing your hands soon after, using hand sanitizer and avoiding touching your face, just might be enough to prevent you from catching a cold or flu virus. Stay home when sick, if possible, to prevent spreading your germs to others. OTC medications can make some symptoms manageable but see your doctor when necessary or if symptoms become severe. Consider a flu shot to help protect yourself and others from influenza.
Knowing the difference in symptoms can differentiate between the common cold and influenza and may help stop the spread of germs. Avoiding contact with others when sick is important, but even more so when battling the flu.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Schaumburg, Ill.