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Differences Between the Flu and Colds

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 1

Being sick is not fun at all.  You have to learn to take care of yourself. Remember that health is wealth that is why you should learn to take good care of your body. However, regardless of your effort to maintain your healthy body, there would always be time that you will get sick. The most common sickness you can experience is flu and cold. The flu and colds are likely to happen during cold season but, they can hit you anytime, anywhere and it is hard to identify the main difference between the two. A lot of people today do not really know the main difference between flu and cold and it is quite confusing and challenging to evaluate the two since they are quite similar to each other.

What is this cold and flu virus

What are Colds and Flues?

Flu and colds are both viral infections that can attack your respiratory system. However, the influenza virus is the main cause of flu whereas rhino-virus is the one that causes a cold. Flu happens in unexpected situation and can come upon you quickly, while cold typically develops slowly. In general, flu may appear like a cold at the start which is a milder illness as compared to flu. And while the symptoms of a cold can make you feel quite bad and lousy for a few hours or even a couple of days, the symptoms of flu can make you feel really bad for many days to weeks. The after effects of the flu can affect your for even weeks.

Cold vs Flu
To help you more in identifying if you have flu or cold, you should fully understand their main differences in terms of their main causes, signs, and symptoms.  You have to know which one you have in order to know what treatment is correct.   

You should know that he common cold is an inflammation in the mucous membrane which is usually caused by 200 different types of viruses. If you are about to have a cold, you will start having a sore throat which usually happens on first day. After that, you will experience nasal problems, a runny nose, coughing, and congestion. During the first two days that you have symptoms of cold, it's better for you to stay home and get enough rest since you are already contagious. Cold viruses can spread easily through nose-blowing, nose-wiping, and sneezing. So basically, you can be affected by a cold if you are able to come in contact and inhale viruses from someone who is infected with a cold.

Some of the common symptoms of cold are nasal stuffiness, headaches, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, nose and throat irritation, and muscles aches and pains. They can cause you to feel terrible but mostly these things are just uncomfortable and drain you physically. 

If you experience these symptoms, you definitely have a cold and it will typically last for no more than a week. However, if your cold symptoms do not go away after a week and you still feel very weak, it would be advisable that you check with your doctor right away because you probably have developed sinusitis or other allergies.

On the other hand, flu, which is also known as influenza can cause a much serious effect on you as its symptoms are more severe as compared to a cold. It is a highly contagious disease that can infect you through touching contaminated areas such as tables, chairs door handles, utensils, door handles and the likes.  You can also catch the influenza virus by merely being around someone who has flu and keeps on coughing and sneezing.  The influenza virus is considered as an airborne virus and therefore, flu is contagious just by being in the presence of someone having the disease. 

One common complication of the flu virus is pneumonia, which can be very risky for both young and adults especially those with heart and lung problems. Flu viruses usually start by entering your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth's mucous membrane. Again this is an airborne disease and since we rely on our breathing and touching things, we are more susceptible to the contagious virus.

Among the common symptoms of flu includes high fever, headache, sore throat, hoarse cough, and aching arm, legs, and back. If you experience the following symptoms of flu, you will feel very weak due to fever for the first 2 to 4 days and coughing and tiredness can last for more than a week.

Cold and Flu
Once you experience any of the signs and symptoms of flu and cold, it's very important that you take the right medicines to control them from spreading. And since both flu and cold have similar symptoms and it seems so hard to tell their differences based on signs and symptoms alone, it is best advisable that you visit your doctor as soon as possible so you'll know exactly if you have a flu or cold as well as you will be provided with the appropriate medications to take, and be further examined for other illnesses.

How to Treat the Flu and the Cold

The Center for Disease Control says you should get plenty of rest.  This will mean you should take off a couple of day from work or school.  You should not go around others for at least 24 hours after you stop having fever.  Fever is a sign you are contagious and your body is heating up to fight off the virus. 

Get the rest you need. Your body needs to use all its energy to fight off this virus.  Stress can cause the virus to move and reproduce faster.  If you are resting, those resources can be used to fight off the virus.  

If you have a cold or flu do not eat or drink after anyone.  Do not let anyone eat or drink after you either.  You need to disobey your parents on this one and do not learn to share, at least do not share this virus.  

You should drink plenty of liquids.  This will help directly by fighting off the virus.  However, indirectly it will help you to keep from getting dehydrated, which is a common occurrence with having a cold.  

To help relieve some of the congestion, you can take a hot shower or bath.  This will help you relax as well.  The steam will help relieve some of the congestion as well.  To also help with the congestion, you can get a humidifier and place it in the room you are staying in most of the time.  

To help with the sore throat you can gargle with warm salt water.  You will most likely have muscle pain associated with the cold.  You can take aspirin or acetaminophen, or ibuprofen.  You can take over the counter medications with antihistamines in them to help combat the runny nose and irritated eyes.  Take cough suppressants to help with the coughing that you are having.  However, you do want to get that stuff broke up and coughing does help with theat.  If you are coughing and it is breaking the mucous up, you might want to go as long as you can.  

See your doctor
You should always see a doctor if you condition gets worse or last for more than a week.  I am not a medical doctor and this article should not replace the great information you would get from a physician that knows you and your situation. 
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