Cold vs. the Flu Season – Do You Know Which One You’ve Got?

We all experience at some time or the other, the sneezing, coughing and stuffy nose; the symptoms that come with the cold or flu and make us feel completely miserable.  But how can you determine whether you are suffering from the flu or are just a victim of minor cold symptoms? The cold and flu are different and it’s therefore, important to understand the difference between them.

By definition, a cold is a mild respiratory problem, which can last for a few days and is less serious than the flu. Usually the cold begins with a sore throat and runny nose followed by coughing, which continues for a few days. A slight fever is also possible and it tends to happen more among children than adults. These cold symptoms can last to almost a week before it goes away. There are more than 200 viruses that can cause you to get cold, the most common being rhinoviruses, corona viruses, respiratory syncytial virus. Among them rhinoviruses are the worst.

Flu, on the other hand, is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the entry of virus into your body via mouth, nose, or your eyes. There are three types of viruses that can cause the flu: influenza type A, type B, and type C which are classified according to the changes they can impinge on the society at large. It’s important to be aware that the viruses can constantly change and modify themselves, creating a new element that forces the medical experts to create new vaccines from time to time.

People often confuse Flu symptoms to that of cold symptoms such as sore throat and cough along with headache and muscle aches which can lasts up to a week.  Swine flu on the other hand, can cause vomiting and diarrhea (or diarrhoea). These symptoms usually go away within another two to five days.

To differentiate whether you have a cold or the flu, medical experts recommend that you make a note of your temperature, since symptoms between cold and flu is quite similar except body temperature. The notable difference is the common cold is unlikely to have fever above 101 degrees or severe muscle aches and pains.

Having a cold is not really a concern as it can go away after a few days but that’s not the case with the flu. Being a contagious disease, anti–virals are good options to protect your family members from catching the flu.

Preventive measures are a must to protect your body from getting the cold and flu.  Frequent hand washing is essential to kill the germs and don’t forget to cover your nose when you sneeze! A flu vaccine is also essential to prevent us from seasonal influenza. And of course, home remedies always come handy when it comes to treating the cold and flu. Keep in mind that eating foods and fruits rich in vitamin C helps to fight germs and viruses. You can also take a daily dose of Echinacea, an immune system booster, to help keep yourself safe from the attack of these annoying ailments.

The flu is indeed a contagious disease and the danger lies in the ability of the virus to modify its DNA and adapt itself to new environments. Thus a new type of vaccine is needed to prevent and protect the population from epidemic outbreaks like H1N1 used to cause. Your best bet is to get flu shots or a nasal spray vaccine regularly. The 2012-2013 flu vaccine is the latest one designed for the following viruses: type A H1N1-like virus, type A H3N2-like virus, and type B 2010-like virus.

Keep up to date on the latest news concerning virus and flu as well as practice good hygienic habits to prevent yourself and your family from catching either one, and prevent the disease from spreading at the same time. 

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