All Women's Talk

7 Ways to Tell the Flu from the Cold ...

By Jennifer

Late August to early June is what doctors and researcher call “cold and flu season.” It’s not the chill in the air that causes them, but rather the close confines and dry air that spreads the viruses that cause them. Aside from that, the cold and the flu are very different, and knowing which is which is very important when deciding whether or not to seek medical treatment, or to stay home, drinks plenty of fluids, and wait it out. Here are 7 ways to tell the flu from a common cold.

1 Fever

If you’re suffering from a cold, you may be running a low-grade fever, but if you have the flu, your fever may be higher. If your temperature is more than 101 degrees, you should seek medical attention. Also, please note: never, EVER, give a child with a temperature aspirin, as it may cause Reyes syndrome.

2 Cough

If you have a mild or wet, hacking cough, chances are, you have a cold. But if your cough is persistent, extreme, painful, or if it appears to be worsening, you may have the flu, or your cold has worsened into another ailment, like bronchitis, instead. Again, if your cough worsens, it may be a sign of other health problems, so it’s wise to see your doctor. He may want to prescribe an antibiotic, not something that will help the common cold.

3 Fatigue

Are you a little more tired than usual, maybe craving a nap? Then you may have a cold. But if you’re exhausted, lethargic, and extremely fatigued, your body may be battling the flu. Don’t fight it. Get your rest!

4 Aches

Most times, you’ll only have mild aches and pains if you have a cold. But if your entire body aches, deep in your muscles and bones, then you likely have the flu, not a cold.

5 Nasal Congestion

When you have a cold, your nose may be runny, and you’ll probably sneeze a lot, since the virus that causes the cold has planted itself in your nasal passages, causing inflammation and irritation. However, if you have the flu, nasal congestion is rare.

6 Headache

If your illness is accompanies by a headache, the severity and length of time you suffer from it may indicate whether you have a cold or the flu. It’s rare to have a headache when you have a cold, but it can be severe if you have the flu.

7 Sore Throat

If you have a sore, scratchy throat, then you’re probably suffering from a cold, not the flu. The tickle in your throat is likely caused by sinus drainage from the cold… and it’s rare to have this when you have the flu.

Keep this list of symptoms handy this season, and compare it against how you’re feeling, to see if you have a cold, or if it’s something a little more serious — the flu. Be prepared to describe your symptoms, and an illness timeline, to your doctor. And always remember the best way to stay healthy is to wash your hands thoroughly all season long… an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?

Top Photo Credit: sedairy

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