Cold or Flu: What's the Difference?
Year after year, many people confuse the two infections and do not treat themselves properly.
To make sure you're treating your cold or flu properly, you need to know how to tell the difference between the two infections.
Flu and its symptoms
The flu is different than the common cold. She is always much heavier. When we get the flu, we really feel really bad and we need to stay in bed. The most common symptoms are:
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Fever (sometimes severe)
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat and sneezing
- Feeling of general discomfort
- Chills and shivering
- Dry cough and nasal discharge
- Sometimes chest pain, gastroenteritis symptoms (diarrhea and/or vomiting), night sweats, joint and/or eye pain.
The common cold and its symptoms
Colds and flu are confused because they share common respiratory symptoms. A cold usually starts with a mild sore throat or nasal congestion. It remains rather limited not only in time, but also in the severity of symptoms. We can usually do normal things, even though fatigue and general malaise can slow us down a bit. The most common symptoms are:
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- A sore throat
- Sneezing, sometimes coughing
- Headache and mild fatigue
- Very mild fever (sometimes).
Cold or flu: when to see a doctor?
As a rule, with a cold, there is no reason to see a doctor: sleep, drink more. On the other hand, we can always go to the pharmacy and consult a pharmacist if we need help in choosing medicines or if we are not sure about the symptoms. There is a lot of confusion about over-the-counter drugs and therefore it is always better to consult a specialist than to self-medicate.
For the flu, it can have serious consequences for the elderly, children under 2 years of age, and people with chronic conditions (respiratory disease, heart disease), and it is best to seek medical attention, especially if you have a high fever (40.5 °C and above). Therefore, vulnerable populations should not hesitate to seek medical attention if they feel really unwell or if the temperature persists for more than 3 days.
For the youngest, a cold or flu consultation is given when the child stops playing, if they vomit or are not eating well, or if they wet their diapers less (a sign of possible dehydration).
In case of doubt, one can always start by consulting a pharmacist, who is often more accessible. He will be able to refer you to a doctor if the symptoms seem alarming to him.
See also: "Stroke: what are the symptoms and how to prevent them."