Flu and the common cold are viral respiratory diseases. Both diseases are spread by droplets. When speaking, sneezing, coughing, the person releases tiny droplets that can contain a variety of microorganisms. These droplets can reach another person and that person can inhale them. You can also be infected with the virus by touching an infected surface and then transferring microorganisms to your nose and mouth.
They most commonly occur during the cold or spring season. There is no significant evidence to support this seasonal occurrence. One explanation is that people are closer to each other during that time, because they spend more time indoors. And secondly, the concentration of droplets in the volume of air during the cold and spring season is greater due to the inadequately ventilated closed spaces.
Distinguish between flu and cold
Flu and the common cold are not the same illnesses, although they may share some symptoms. The symptoms of flu are worse, because you are often confined to bed for several days, whereas the symptoms of a cold will usually just make you feel slightly ill.
They are both caused by viruses, but completely different ones. There are hundreds of viruses that can cause colds, but only three strains cause flu - A, B and C.
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||typically, often severe pain
||it may last for 2-3 weeks
||often a strong cough with complications
Flu is caused by viruses A, B and C, which are antigenically different. Flu viruses have their own "tricks" of survival: they are subject to minor or major changes and this creates new subtypes. These changes are permanent and common and occur almost every year. This means that you can never develop a lasting immunity to the flu: if one year you develop antibodies to the flu virus, it probably will not protect you from a new form of flu next year.
Symptoms of flu
People with flu normally feel very ill for two or three days. The symptoms usually last for around another five days. After that, the consequences may be felt for a further two or three weeks.
The most common symptoms of flu are:
- high temperature (above 38 ° C or 100.4 ° F) with chills
- sore throat
- pain in muscles and joints
- general fatigue and weakness
- stuffy nose, sneezing
Problems that may occur when developing complications:
- temperature that lasts more than 4 days
- increased amount of and / or greenish nasal secretion
- strong cough and / or coughing up greenish content
- shortness of breath
If a person already has a first symptoms of flu, fight with the flu depends on whether you belong to risk groups and what are the problems you are experiencing.
Be sure to contact your doctor if you have a very high fever, together with abdominal or chest pain or an unusually severe headache, or regardless how severe the symptoms are, if you belong to risk groups:
- are aged 65 or over
- are pregnant
- have heart disease, diabetes, asthma, lung disease or another long-term medical condition
- have a weakened immune system.
If none of these apply to you, your body should recover from flu of its own accord. You should get lots of rest, stay warm, and drink plenty of water. You can treat the symptoms of flu by taking:
- paracetamol to lower your fever
- ibuprofen for muscle aches
- cough syrup if you have a cough
- decongestant if you have a blocked nose
Many commercial preparations may help to relieve the symptoms of flu (also available without a prescription) in the form of a combination of mostly paracetamol, vitamin C, nasal mucosa decongestant and similar active substances.
Do not take antibiotics on your own: Flu is a viral disease and it cannot be treated with antibiotics. Of course, take antibiotics if your doctor has concluded that the disease is complicated by a bacterial infection.
You may also be prescribed antiviral medicines such as Tamiflu and Relenza which can help you recover faster. Both of these must be taken within 48 hours of symptoms appearing to be effective. Tamiflu can reduce the length of flu by up to one day.
Common cold is caused by various respiratory viruses, usually by those with lower pathogenicity, or with less aggressiveness. Symptoms emerge one to four days after viral entry into the lining of the nose or throat.
Symptoms of a cold
The symptoms can be similar to those of flu, but the main symptoms are cough and sniffles:
- runny nose with breathing difficulties
- sore throat
- watery eyes that burn
People suffering from a cold may also have a mild fever, which can make a cold easy to confuse with flu.
Treating a cold
Besides treating the symptoms, resting and taking care of yourself are usually enough to cure a cold. You should:
- drink plenty of fluids
- rest your body
- eat healthy
You can treat the symptoms of a cold to help you feel better, but this will not make you recover sooner.
- take cough syrup or throat lozenges
- take painkillers such as ibuprofen, paracetamol or aspirin
- gargle salt water, which may help ease a sore throat and nasal congestion
- take decongestants to help with a blocked nose. These can either be taken orally or as a spray in your nose.