Did you know that every year around eight percent of the adults in America suffer from the flu? Yes. Interestingly, most people tend to confuse between the two and end up treating one instead of the other. However, despite their semblance, the flu and common cold are different not only in the cause but also treatment and symptoms.
Knowing the symptoms of the cold and flu is vital when it comes to choosing a suitable treatment. Remember, if the flu is left untreated, it could lead to other health complications such as pneumonia and dehydration.
The cold and flu affect the respiratory system, but they are different, and below, we list the significant differences between the two:
Both the common cold and flu infections are viral infections but are caused by different virus strains. Over 200 virus strains can trigger the common cold, but the rhinovirus is the most common.
Influenza A and B cause the flu, although new strains are emerging every year.
One similarity between the cold and flu is that they are both airborne infections, meaning they spread with direct contact with an infected person.
The primary difference between the cold and flu infection is the symptoms. The common cold has mild symptoms, which include sneezing, sore throat, stuffy nose, coughs body aches, and mild fatigue. These cold symptoms clear up on their own within one or two weeks.
The flu infection has moderate to severe symptoms such as dry cough, fever, fatigue, severe sore throat, fatigue, chills, severe muscle and body aches, and stuffy nose. The signs of the flu occur within a few hours after coming in contact with the virus. These flu symptoms in adults last for about two weeks.
Yes, the cold is very common, but the good news is it can be treated with home remedies such as resting, saltwater, decongestants, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, antihistamines (works great if the cause is allergic reactions), saline drops, and cough syrups.
Although severe, flu infection doesn’t need mediation, rest, and drinking enough fluids will suffice. Additionally, you need to watch your nutrition and exercise often to boost your immune system. A robust immune system will help you fight the flu virus away as well as prevent complications.
When it comes to the flu, you can get a flu vaccine to protect against new strains of the virus. New strains of influenza virus emerge every year, creating the need for a vaccine. Although the body develops new antibodies for the old strains, we don’t have protection against the new ones. The flu vaccine not only protects against the virus but also reduces the severity of the symptoms.
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for the cold because numerous types of virus strains cause it. Vaccines are created for specific viruses or bacteria strain, and it’s impossible to have one for the common cold.
The common cold is treatable with home remedies, and it doesn’t cause any complication, but this is not the case with the flu infection. If left untreated, the flu could lead to several complications such as sinusitis, pneumonia, ear infection, bronchitis, sepsis, and organ inflammation. It is crucial to seek ER for the flu if you notice a sign of flu complications like breathing difficulties, chest pain, severe sore throat, persistent fever, and wet cough.
Absolutely. Both the flu and common cold spread through contact, so avoiding direct contact is crucial to preventing the infection. Furthermore, avoid crowded places such as the parks during the flu season and maintain proper hygiene. Getting a flu shot every year may also give you a fighting chance as it reduces the severity.
The common cold and flu infection is treatable. However, if the symptoms last for more than two weeks and have chest pain, you need urgent care. Visit Ascent Emergency Medical Center for more information on the flu symptoms and treatment.