The Flu & The Common Cold - What...

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Am I Sick With A Cold Or The Flu?

Cold and Flu season has started and unfortunately, chances are you will get sick. Americans will report over 1 billion colds as well as report over 36 million cases of the flu. That’s about 3 colds per person and just about 10% of the population getting the flu! That’s a lot of sickness. It is easier to treat our bodies when we know what is affecting us. With that said, do you know the difference between a common cold and the flu?

The Common Cold

Believe it or not, the common cold is caused by a virus. There are many types of cold viruses in the world and all of them are airborne meaning they transfer from person to person in the air or on objects that the virus lands on. The virus attacks your upper respiratory system and generally stays in your nose & throat. With all the congestion and fatigue that generally comes with catching a cold, it might seem like the common cold can do some damage to our bodies. Be assured that the overwhelming majority of cold viruses are actually harmless leaving no long-term effects to our bodies. The common cold ends up being more of an annoyance than anything else.

Symptoms Of A Cold

Like with any virus or foreign entity entering our body, there are symptoms of the virus that are identifiable. If you think you have a cold, see if you are experiencing these symptoms.

  • Congestion or a runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Fatigue

If you are experiencing these symptoms, our best recommendation is to get some rest. By giving your body rest, it allows your body to fight the virus without having to attend to other body issues and fatigue. A cold will generally affect you for 1-2 weeks. As the cold progresses, you could experience an increase in thick mucus in your nasal passages. This is normal and part of the course for the virus. There is no pill or drug that can “cure” you of a cold but there are several over-the-counter medications out there to treat the symptoms of the virus. If after 10 days you are not experiencing any improvement in your health, it is recommended you go visit your health care professional.

The Flu

The flu, also known as Influenza, is another airborne virus that attacks the respiratory system. There are 4 main types of flu viruses called A, B, C, & D although it is influenza A & B that cause a majority of issues in humans. Most people are able to suffer through a flu infection but the flu can have some serious ramifications. People with serious health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, or AIDS as well as pregnant women, children under 5, and adults over the age of 65 are at risk for developing serious conditions related to the flu virus that could result in death. For people who are at high risk of developing serious conditions related to the flu, it is highly recommended that you protect yourself from getting the flu by staying away from people who may be exposed and by washing your hands often.

Symptoms Of The Flu

Symptoms of the flu are similar to the symptoms of a cold but are generally more severe. If you think you have the flu, see if you have any of the following symptoms.

  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Body chills
  • Headache
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you are experiencing these symptoms, our best recommendation is to stay home, get some rest, and drink lots of fluids. Your body needs a lot of strength to fight off the flu. The flu will generally last 7-10 days with the worst of the symptoms occurring in the first 3-4 days. There are a few prescription medications that can help your body fight the flu but these medications need to be taken very early in the flu cycle. Other over-the-counter medications are designed to fight the symptoms of the flu. Before taking any medication to fight the flu, you should consult your health care professional to make sure you are taking what is best. You should also consult your health care professional if a week has passed and you are not recovering from the flu.

Flu Shots

Receiving the flu vaccine is a great way to help prevent yourself from getting the flu. This safe & effective vaccine is designed to help prevent an infection from the Influenza A and Influenza B viruses. Depending on the “type” of flu season that is predicted, the flu vaccine may be modified to protect against Influenza C and/or Influenza D as well. Although the flu vaccine is a great way to protect yourself from the flu, it only helps prevent the influenza virus. The flu vaccine will have no effect on the viruses that cause the common cold. If you are thinking that because you got your flu shot you won’t get sick, think again. You are only protected against the most serious of viruses that will cause you to be sick, which is the Influenza viruses.

HealthCARE Express Can Help With A Cold Or Flu

If you have the sniffles or chills running through your body, we can help. The professionals at your local HealthCARE Express are standing by to get you through the cold & flu season. When you come in, our medical staff will assess your symptoms and perform appropriate testing to determine if you have a common cold, flu, srep, Covid-19, or something altogether different. Depending on the outcome, a treatment plan will be provided to you. This is just one of the many services we provide at our urgent care clinics. If you are sick or are experiencing another medical ailment, we encourage you to come to one of our urgent care centers near you where we can assist you in getting back to feeling like yourself. Please stay healthy during cold and flu season.


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