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Cold or Flu? How to tell the difference.

Flu or Cold Symptoms?

 When you wake up sneezing, coughing, and have that achy, feverish, can't move a muscle feeling, how do you know whether you have cold symptomsor the flu? And if it's the flu, could it be swine flu?

It's important to know the difference between flu and cold symptoms. A cold is a milder respiratory illness than the flu. While cold symptoms can make you feel bad for a few days, flu symptoms can make you feel quite ill for a few days to weeks. The flu -- whether it's typical seasonal flu or the swine flu virus -- can also result in serious health problems such as pneumonia and hospitalizations.

 

Swine Flu Outbreak: Get the Facts

 
Is a cold is it the flu? (425) 793-7700 Cedar River Medical Massage - public_health_emergency

Get the latest swine flu facts and information from WebMD, the CDC and other public health agencies.

 

What are common cold symptoms?

Cold symptoms usually begin with a sore throat, which usually goes away after a day or two. Nasal symptoms, runny nose, and congestion follow, along with a cough by the fourth and fifth days. Fever is uncommon in adults, but a slight fever is possible. Though children are more likely to have a fever with a cold.

Cold symptoms seem to come on more gradually.

With cold symptoms, your nose teems with watery nasal secretions for the first few days. Later, these become thicker and darker. Dark mucus is natural and does not usually mean you have developed a bacterial infection, such as a sinus infection.

Several hundred different viruses may cause your cold symptoms.

How long do cold symptoms last?

Cold symptoms usually last for about a week. During the first three days that you have cold symptoms, you are contagious. This means you can pass the cold to others, so stay home and get some much-needed rest.

If cold symptoms do not seem to be improving after a week, you may have a bacterial infection, which means you may need antibiotics.

Sometimes you may mistake cold symptoms for allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or a sinus infection. If your cold symptoms begin quickly and are improving after a week, then it is usually a cold, not allergy. If your cold symptoms do not seem to be getting better after a week, check with your doctor to see if you have developed an allergy or sinusitis.

What are common flu symptoms?

Flu symptoms usually are more sudden.

Whether a person has typical seasonal flu or swine flu, the symptoms seem to be quite similar. Flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms and come on quickly. Symptoms of swine flu and seasonal flu include sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches and soreness, congestion, and cough. Swine flu in particular is also associated with vomiting and diarrhea.

Most flu symptoms gradually improve over two to five days, but it's not uncommon to feel run down for a week or more. A common complication of the flu is pneumonia, particularly in the young, elderly, or people with lung or heart problems. If you notice shortness of breath, you should let your doctor know. Another common sign of pneumonia is fever that comes back after having been gone for a day or two.

Just like cold viruses, flu viruses enter your body through the mucous membranes of your nose, eyes, or mouth. Every time you touch your hand to one of these areas, you could be infecting yourself with a virus, which makes it very important to keep your hands germ-free with frequent washing to prevent both flu and cold symptoms.

Is it flu or cold symptoms?

How do you know if you have flu or cold symptoms? Take your temperature, say many experts. Whether it's seasonal or swine influenza, the symptoms often mimic cold symptoms with nasal congestion, cough, aches, and malaise. But a common cold rarely has symptoms of fever above 101 degrees F. With flu symptoms, you will probably have a fever initially with the flu virus and you will feel miserable. Body and muscle aches are also more common with the flu.

Is it flu or cold symptoms?

How do you know if you have flu or cold symptoms? Take your temperature, say many experts. Whether it's seasonal or swine influenza, the symptoms often mimic cold symptoms with nasal congestion, cough, aches, and malaise. But a common cold rarely has symptoms of fever above 101 degrees F. With flu symptoms, you will probably have a fever initially with the flu virus and you will feel miserable. Body and muscle aches are also more common with the flu. This table can help determine if you have cold or flu symptoms.

Symptoms

Cold

Flu

Fever

Sometimes, usually mild

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

Headache

Occasionally

Common

General Aches, Pains

Slight

Usual; often severe

Fatigue, Weakness

Sometimes

Usual; can last 2 to 3 weeks

Extreme Exhaustion

Never

Usual; at the beginning of the illness

Stuffy Nose

Common

Sometimes

Sneezing

Usual

Sometimes

Sore Throat

Common

Sometimes

Chest Discomfort, Cough

Mild to moderate; hacking cough

Common; can become severe

Complications

Sinus congestion; middle ear infection

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

Prevention

Wash your hands often; avoid close contact with anyone with a cold

Wash your hands often; avoid close contact with anyone who has flu symptoms; for seasonal flu, get the annual flu shot; ask your doctor about antiviral medicine for either seasonal or swine flu.

Treatment

Antihistamines; decongestants; anti-inflammatory medicines

Antihistamines, decongestants, analgesics ( ibuprofen, acetaminophen); antiviral drugs within the first 48 hours of seasonal or swine flu symptoms; call your doctor for more information about treatment.

 Usually, the time of year will give you some sense of what you're dealing with. The standard flu season runs from fall to spring of the next year.

However, the picture has become a lot more complicated since the swine flu outbreak in April 2009. For now, experts don't know how that virus will spread over the coming months.

For more information refer WebMD.Com

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