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Is it a Cold or Flu?

November 26, 2018




Home remedies can help you feel better when you find yourself “under the weather” with a cold or the flu. A few over the counter medications can also help relieve symptoms. The first question is, do you have a cold or the flu? Chances are, if you had a flu shot, you don’t have influenza. You can still get vaccinated to protect yourself the rest of the flu season, which runs through April, according to the Center for Disease Control.

The common cold typically begins with a sore throat, which can make swallowing and even talking difficult. This condition usually lasts for a couple days and is often joined by a runny nose and chest congestion. Overall, these symptoms should only last somewhere between a few days and a week.

The flu, however, is different. All of the symptoms above are more severe and they’re joined by other issues - including fever, headache, muscle aches and soreness. The flu is often marked by vomiting and diarrhea, which are rare with the common cold.

What should I do if I get sick?

If you get sick with flu symptoms, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care. If you have symptoms of flu and are in a high risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider. Certain people are at high risk of serious flu related complications - young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions. This is true both for seasonal flu and flu virus infections. CDC recommends that people at high risk for complications should get antiviral treatment as early as possible because benefit is greatest if treatment is started within 2 days after illness onset. What are the emergency warning signs of flu sickness?

In children

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

If you suspect you have a cold or flu, consult your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment.