Yep, its that time of year again. Cold and Flu season is upon us.
If you’re feeling yucky you may be wondering if you have a cold or the flu.
It’s important to know the difference between a cold and the flu.
Colds and the flu are both respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. Since they both have similar symptoms it can be hard to tell the difference. Sometimes its even impossible to tell the difference based on symptoms alone. A special test is required to tell if a person has the flu, in most cases.
Can you have the flu without a fever?
According to the CDC people can have the flu without running a fever. There are 4 different types of flu viruses, and they are A, B, C, and D. Type C is less severe than the other 3 types, and usually doesn’t include a fever.
What are the different types of flu?
As mentioned above, according to the CDC, there are 4 types of flu, A, B, C, and D.
A and B viruses usually cause seasonal epidemics, almost every winter in the US.
Type C virus usually causes mild respiratory illnesses. This type usually doesn’t cause epidemics.
The type D virus mostly infects cattle and doesn’t cause illness in humans.
What is a cold virus?
A cold virus will enter your body through your eyes, mouth, or nose. A cold will spread through the air when someone coughs, sneezes, or talks. Hand-to-hand contact is another way to spread the virus. Another way to spread a cold is through contaminated objects like toys, utensils, or a telephone.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
The onset of flu symptoms is usually abrupt and more severe than colds. The symptoms of flu can include fever/chills, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle and or body aches, headaches, and fatigue. The flu can lead to more severe illnesses like pneumonia. With the flu you may feel pretty sick from a few days to even a week or more.
The time of year will also help you get an idea of what you’re dealing with. The standard flu season usually runs from fall to spring of the next year.
What are the symptoms of a cold?
Unlike the flu, the onset of cold symptoms is usually gradual and less severe than the flu. Colds are usually milder than the flu. If you have a cold you’re more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. It’s rare to have a fever or a headache with a cold. When you have a cold you may feel bad for only a few days.
Call your doctor if:
You already have cold and or flu symptoms and also have any of the following severe symptoms:
- Persistent Fever – if your fever lasts for more than 3 days.
- Painful swallowing – you may already be uncomfortable from a sore throat but severe pain can be a sign of strep throat.
- A Persistent cough – if your cough doesn’t go away after 2 or 3 weeks it could be bronchitis. You may need an antibiotic.
- Persistent congestion and headaches – if you have pain around the eyes and face with a thick nasal discharge after a week you may have a bacterial infection and could need an antibiotic.
In some cases you may need to go to the ER. In adults, signs of needing emergency medical attention include:
- Severe chest pain
- Severe headache
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent vomiting
Is It a Cold or the Flu? 8 Ways to Tell the Difference
The chart below can help you tell the difference between a cold and the flu.
10 ways to avoid the flu
- Wash your hands regularly. That includes teaching your kids to wash their hands thoroughly.
- Stop biting your nails. That is just inviting flu germs into your body.
- Get plenty of rest
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that could be infected with the flu
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Take probiotics
- Carry hand sanitizer with you
- Eat healthy foods
Remember, if you do have flu symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to go to the doctor. Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines. Also, please cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.
I hope this article helps you if you are unfortunate enough to get the flu or a cold.
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed medical professional nor do I pretend to be one on this site. Please do your own research and check with your health care provider if you think you have the flu or a cold.