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Wednesday, 09 November 2011 13:56

Doctor, Am I having Flu or Cold? Featured

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Provided information will help you to differentiate Cold and Flu symptoms

common cold
Waking with sneezing, sounds like alarm bell!!! Many times we experience symptoms such as sneezing, coughing and body ache, fatigue with feverish feeling. Lets us wondering whether  have developed common cold or it’s the flu, or may be Allergic rhinitis?

Why it’s important to know the difference?
Both the cold and flu are respiratory illness caused by different viruses. Understanding the difference helps to get timely treatment and precautions so as to avoid further flu associated complications.  A cold is a milder respiratory illness compare to flu. With Symptoms of cold you don’t feel well for a few days yet flu symptoms can make you feel ill for longer duration may be few days to weeks. Flu, if not treated timely can result in serious health problems such as pneumonia and in few cases hospitalizations.

How to recognise cold or Flu
Let’s know some common symptoms of cold

Cold symptoms include cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing.  Usually Cold begin with sore throat that normally goes away after a day or two. With that, usually nasal symptoms including runny nose, congestion follow, along with cough by the fourth and fifth days. Fever is not common in Adults, may be slight fever. Children with cold are more likely to develop fever.
Normally, in first few days person with cold may experience stuffy nose with water nasal secretions that may become thick and dark later.

Over an all, usually cold symptoms last for about a week, and during first three daysare infectious, you can spread cold virus to others. It’s advisable to stay home during this period and have proper rest. Even after a week, if cold symptoms do not improve, it’s time to  consult physician as it is quite possible that you may have a bacterial infection that requires a dose of antibiotics.
More than hundred types of viruses are known to cause cold symptoms.

It’s very common to mistake cold symptoms for Allergic Rhinitis (hay fever) or a sinus infection. However if a cold symptoms  are improving after a week then mostly it’s a cold not allergy. If your cold symptoms do not seem to be getting better after a week consult with your doctor to check whether you have developed allergy or sinus infection.The common cold is self-limited and can generally be managed at home.

Common flu symptoms
Patients with Influenza/Flu usually look more ill. Flu symptoms developed quickly and are more severe in comparison to cold symptoms. The symptoms of flu include fever, chills, headache, considerable muscle pain, body aches, dry cough and extreme weakness.

In most cases people with flu recover within one or two weeks, but some patient of flu may develop a serious complications- PNEUMONIA, particularly the  young, elderly, or people with lung or heart problems are more susceptible. If you experience shortness of breath with fever that comes back after having been gone for a day or two, contact immediately to your family physician.

How to know is it flu or cold symptoms?

Measure Body temperature – suggest the experts. Common cold rarely has symptoms of high grade fever in adults that is fever above 101 degrees F. With flu you may have a fever initially with severe body ache (Muscle pain) and weakness.

 This table can help determine if you have cold or flu symptoms. #





Sometimes, usually mild

Usual; higher (100-102 F; occasionally higher, especially in young children); lasts 3 to 4 days




General Aches, Pains


Usual; often severe

Fatigue, Weakness


Usual; can last 2 to 3 weeks

Extreme Exhaustion


Usual; at the beginning of the illness

Stuffy Nose






Sore Throat



Chest Discomfort, Cough

Mild to moderate; hacking cough

Common; can become severe


Sinus congestion; middle ear infection

Sinusitis, bronchitis, ear infection, pneumonia; can be life-threatening

 Table source:

When should I consult with a physician or other health-care practitioner with flu or cold symptoms?

Generally, the common cold can be treated at home and managed with over-the-counter medications. However, if you develop more severe symptoms such as

  • Shaking chills
  • Persistent fever
  • Sore throat or painful swallowing with fever and with or without cold symptoms- it could be bacterial throat infection.
  • Persistent cough – when cough does not subside within 1-2 weeks, you should consult doctor to rule out bronchitis or other bacterial infection or illness.
  • Severe headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion, and or failure to improve in a week or 10 days, you should consult your physician or health-care practitioner immediately.
  • Infants 3 months of age or younger who develop a cold or fever needs medical attention.
  • Facial pain continues headache and/ or yellow green discharge from nose accompanied by fever it could be Sinusitis (infection of sinus) and you should consult your physician for treatment.

Signs that require emergency medical attention in Adults include:  

  • Severe chest pain
  • Severe headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Persistent vomiting

Signs that require emergency medical attention in children include:  

  • Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Lethargy and failure to interact normally
  • Extreme irritability or distress
  • Symptoms that were improving and then suddenly worsen
  • Fever with a rash

How can we prevent Cold or Flu?

  • The most important measure for the prevention of cold and flu is Frequent Hand Washing. Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds suggest the expert, this will help to get rid of viruses that you might have acquired from touching contaminated surfaces. It is important to develop habit of washing hands properly; especially children should be insisted to wash hands frequently in proper method.
  • Avoid close contact of infected individuals as much as possible. Try to avoid sharing utensils also.
  • Smoking cessation and effective stress management greatly reduces the susceptibility of catching cold.
  • You can also get a flu vaccine to prevent seasonal influenza, especially consider for school going children.

Does cold weather exposure causes cold and Flu?
Although numbers of people who tend to develop common cold in the fall and winter months are more, the cold weather itself is not the cause for the development of common cold. It is believed that usually during cold weather- season people tend to stay more inside in close connection to each other that facilitates the spread of virus. Similarly, that is why, children in day care and school are particularly more susceptible to get common cold.

Wash your hands frequently and stay away from cold and Flu and Enjoy winter Happily......

Please Note:
Information provided in the article is for general awareness and can not be substitute as medical advice

Article source and ref:


Read 29237 times Last modified on Wednesday, 09 November 2011 14:45

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