We are often asked about the difference between cold vs flu symptoms and the duration of flu symptoms. It can be hard to distinguish between cold vs flu symptoms at times because both illnesses have similar symptoms, but there are some differences. Both colds and the flu can cause headache, body aches, sore throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and fatigue. However, a fever is common with the flu while it is rare with colds. Some strains of flu also cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which do not occur with colds. Flu symptoms are often more severe than cold symptoms.
The duration of flu symptoms is usually five to seven days, although it may be longer in children. The duration of a cold is usually about a week, although it can last a little longer sometimes.
There is a difference between cold vs flu symptoms when it comes to prevention. There is a vaccine to protect against the flu, but there is no vaccine for colds. If you are interested in getting a flu shot, you need to see your doctor in the fall. You have to get one every year.
To prevent catching either the flu or colds, try to keep your distance from people who are sick. People with colds or the flu should cover their mouths and noses when they cough or sneeze to help avoid spreading germs. You can also help protect yourself by washing your hands frequently with soap and water. If you canít wash, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
You can also help prevent both colds and the flu by bolstering your immune system. Eat a healthy diet, including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and get plenty of rest. Studies have actually demonstrated that a lack of sleep makes you more susceptible to colds.
There is also some difference between cold vs flu symptoms when it comes to treatment. Both illnesses will usually clear up on their own without any treatment if simply given time. The viruses simply run their course. However, antiviral medications are sometime prescribed to treat the flu. These medications work by preventing the virus from replicating itself. This shortens the duration of the illness.
There are a number of over-the-counter remedies that can help relieve flu symptoms. You can take Tylenol for fever and body aches, antihistamines for runny nose and sneezing, throat lozenges for sore throat, and cough suppressants for cough. There are a number of flu remedies available that combine several types of medication to treat multiple symptoms. Of course, there are plenty of over-the-counter remedies for colds, as well.
There are also some homeopathic remedies you might want to use to treat the flu.
If you want to get a flu shot, you should see your doctor in the fall. Talk to your doctor about the difference between cold vs flu symptoms. If you get the flu, you can probably treat it at home with over-the-counter medications or homeopathic remedies. You should, however, see a doctor if you have a very high fever, if the duration of flu symptoms is longer than one week, if you have any pre-existing conditions, or if you have difficulty breathing.
More on cold vs flu symptoms on our symptoms of the flu page
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