Cold and flu season is here. Chances are, at some point in the coming months, you’re going to feel under the weather. And when that happens, how will you know whether you have a cold or the flu?
A cold, which could be triggered by more than 200 different viruses, can make you miserable but is relatively harmless. It usually clears up by itself after a period of time, although it can sometimes lead to a secondary infection, such as an ear infection.
Influenza, however, can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia and even death. What may seem like a cold could actually be the flu. Be aware of these differences:
|Low or no fever||High fever|
|Sometimes a headache||Headache very common|
|Stuffy, runny nose||Clear nose|
|Mild, hacking cough||Cough, often becoming severe|
|Slight aches and pains||Often severe aches and pains|
|Mild fatigue||Several weeks of fatigue|
|Sore throat||Sometimes a sore throat|
|Normal energy level or may feel sluggish||Extreme exhaustion|
Reduce the Risk of Cold and Flu
So, you’ve decided that you’d like to avoid all of the above. First off, how do you prevent the common cold?
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your nose or eyes, especially while around sick people.
- Clean surfaces with disinfectants that kill viruses to halt the spread of colds.
And how do you prevent the flu?
- Get a flu shot as soon as it is available each year. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that infants over the age of 6 months and all children and adults get vaccinated every year.
- Wash your hands before eating and don’t put your hands near your face or in your mouth. Wash for at least 20 seconds; regular soap will do.
- If someone in your family has the flu, keep surfaces clean of the virus by wiping them with a cleaning solution containing chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents, iodophors or alcohols. Flu viruses are also killed by heat above 167 F.
- Raise the humidity in your home or workplace. The flu bug exists in higher quantities in dry nasal and oral passages. By raising the humidity, your body will be better able to flush out the flu bug.
Not sure if it’s a cold or flu?
Still not sure about some of the symptoms you may be experiencing?
Visit OSF OnCall for a consultation with a doctor.