“What are you?” The Difference between Colds and Flu
Posted on June 29, 2015 | Author and Reviewed by: Rose Ann C. Galera, RPh
Many think that the flu and the common cold are one and the same. You might be taking the same medicine for cough and colds for both illnesses to alleviate the symptoms. However, these are two very different illnesses caused by two different viruses. Each illness has a whole set of its own symptoms and the way to cure it is also different. It is of utmost importance that you know the difference, thus the reason why we have laid out for you the differences between these two illnesses.
When it comes to severity, you would definitely rather have a cold than the flu. Colds are caused by just three viruses and way milder than the flu. The flu, on the other hand, can be caused by any of over two hundred varieties of viruses. Note that in the past there have been influenza outbreaks that have lead to numerous deaths, leading to many mothers and fathers standing atop six feet deep holes and looking down their offspring’s casket.
While the common cold is a compilation of symptoms, influenza is in a category all on its own.
The symptoms of the flu appear all at once within three to six hours while the symptoms of the common cold appear one by one. When it comes to coughing, you have a dry unproductive cough for influenza while with a cold, you have a hacking, productive cough. There is usually a moderate to high fever involved with influenza. For a cold, a person may experience just a mild to moderate fever. One may feel shaking chills with influenza but it is rare in colds. Influenza patients will also feel severe fatigue whereas cold patients will have just a mild case of tiredness.
Colds are not treated as a whole but whatever symptoms come out that symptom is treated. Remember, there is no all in one cure for the common cold. Take decongestants and Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) like ibuprofen or aspirin. Stay home, rest, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and load up on vitamin C. If the symptoms have noxt cleared up in a week, seek help from a medical professional as this may be more than a cold.
Immediately seek help from a medical professional (like a doctor) if you suspect it to be the flu. There are certain drugs that treat influenza that need a prescription. Your doctor may also recommend NSAIDs as well as antiviral drugs. Note that you must never give aspirin to young children as this an lead to a rare condition called Reye’s syndrome. Do not forget to drink plenty of liquids and to rest.
Despite being worlds away from each other, the prevention for both illnesses is generally the same. Maintain a healthy diet and always practice good hygiene. Of course, the best way to shoo away the flu is by getting your yearly flu shot so please, don’t forget it and set up a reminder.
Whether it is flu or a cold, please do not be a martyr by forcing yourself to go to work or school. You might be spreading viruses and sending more people to the hospital. Stay at home and rest. Be considerate of the other people. A day’s worth of education or salary is not worth creating an epidemic.