With the summer season coming to an end in September, Flu season will be right around the corner. While the Influenza virus (also known as the seasonal flu) can circulate all year, the peak time for Flu activity is during the fall and winter months.
So, to be fully prepared for Cold and Flu season – you may want to know the differences between the two, their signs and symptoms and what preventative actions you can take.
What is the difference between the Flu and a Cold?
The common Cold and Flu both present themselves as respiratory illnesses, however they are caused by two different viruses. Both viruses cause similar indications, so a diagnosis on purely “symptoms” can be quite difficult. The Flu is generally much worse than the common Cold and the symptoms are far more frequent and intense. The Cold, on the other hand, is much milder than the Flu and is usually less intense – with people more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. However, one of the biggest and most critical differences is that Influenza can lead to other severe complications. Some of these may include pneumonia and bacterial infections that can lead to hospitalizations.
What are some signs and symptoms of the influenza virus vs. a cold?
If you find yourself having symptoms of any kind, our providers at Eagles Landing Family Practice can help determine if you have the Flu or the common Cold. In fact, certain tests can confirm if a person has the flu virus within just the first few days. If you have signs of fever, chills, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue (tiredness) then a Flu test might be a good idea. If your symptoms are mostly consisting of a runny or stuffy nose and mild body aches, then the common Cold is most likely the cause.
What are some preventative measures we can take?
The first and most effective step is a no-brainer: get the flu shot. There’s no practical reason not to get one. This can be done easily by scheduling an appointment with your Eagles Landing Family Practice provider. However, a Flu shot isn’t the only way to prevent the Influenza virus and Cold. Something as simple as washing your hands with soap and warm water is also one of your best methods of protection.
Prevention goes beyond oneself, though it’s also very important to limit the spread of the germs and viruses if you do happen to have it. If you are diagnosed with the Flu, it’s very important to make sure you avoid being around people who aren’t sick; such as your friends, co-workers, and classmates. While on the road to recovery from the Flu, be sure to cover your nose or mouth if you have a sneeze or cough, and always wash your hands afterward.
How do I recover from the Cold and Flu?
When recuperating from the Cold or Flu, it’s vital to get plenty of rest to let your body recover. Staying hydrated by drinking lots of fluids – such as water and Gatorade and monitoring yourself for a fever is also crucial. Unfortunately, when it comes to the common cold – there is no cure. The best way to combat the Cold is to use over the counter medications that can help soothe and relieve the symptoms. You may even want to consider talking to your ELFP provider about what might work best for you.
It’s inevitable. We’ll probably wake up one day this fall or winter with a runny nose and scratchy throat – knowing soon enough we’ll be going through a whole box of tissues.
So…stock up now, and don’t forget to schedule an appointment to get your flu shot.