Nose leaking like a faucet, sore throat, and you can’t stop sneezing. No fever, but you feel tired and exhausted you want to curl up on the floor and sleep. And what is it – cold or flu?
Experts say that to differentiate a cold (upper respiratory infection) flu can be more complicated than is assumed by most people.
“Flu-like symptoms and symptoms caused by the common cold, largely coincide,” says Dr. Bruce Barrett, Professor of family medicine and public health at the University of Wisconsin. Although many people think that without high temperature flu does not happen, Barrett says it’s not always the case. “Even I can’t always determine a cold or the flu based solely on symptoms,” he says.
But while colds and flu in many cases can look very similar, between them there are some differences.
The symptoms of colds and flu.
According to Dr. Steinbauer, a cold usually lasts from three to five days, and the flu lasts about twice as long.
In addition, patients with the flu often high fever and headache, body aches, and dry cough. On the other hand, if the cough is accompanied by release of large amounts of fluid or mucus, you have a sore throat you suffer from sneezing or runny nose or nasal congestion, such symptoms more typical of a cold. Swine flu can be accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea.
Worth noting: abdominal pain, diarrhea and other symptoms may occur in children, but among adults suffering from colds or ordinary flu, they are not common. If you have these symptoms, you are probably dealing with a stomach bug or food poisoning.)
Seasonality also plays a role. The flu is most common in early fall (usually when the students return to school) and spring. You can catch a cold at any time, while the epidemic of influenza often occurs in winter.
Flu spreads in two families of viruses known as influenza A and B. Between them there are many differences, so the composition of the influenza vaccine varies from year to year and not always as effective as we hope the public health authorities.
On the other hand, colds are caused by more than 200 different subtypes of respiratory virus. These include rhinovirus, coronavirus, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and others, each of which can produce different symptoms and degrees of severity.
Although colds and the flu may seem quite similar, there is one very important difference: the flu is life-threatening, the flu – no.
“Influenza kills around 35,000 Americans a year, while colds rarely cause long-term harm,” says Dr. NORCROSS. He warns that the most vulnerable people – including people with a weakened immune system, very old and children born prematurely – the flu is a common cause of pneumonia and death.
However, colds and flu do not usually require the attention of a doctor when ill healthy adult or child. People who believe that have flu, it is best to transfer the disease home. According to doctors, you will have less chances to infect others, and the cold and the flu will resolve spontaneously – usually within weeks. If the condition worsens, and the temperature subsides, it’s time to consult a doctor.