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Health & FitHow to Tell If Your Nasty Cold Is Actually the Flu, According to Doctors

00:50  07 august  2019
00:50  07 august  2019 Source:   prevention.com

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It’s too early to tell how this flu season is shaping up in comparison, but one thing is clear: There’s a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about In the winter, it seems that everyone comes down with the flu —or so they think. But many people actually have the common cold or a sinus infection

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When you’re sick, all you care about is feeling less miserable—but once the temps drop during fall and winter, it can be tricky to figure out if you’re dealing with the flu or a common cold.

How to Tell If Your Nasty Cold Is Actually the Flu, According to Doctors© elenaleonova - Getty Images There are a few key differences between cold vs. flu symptoms. Here, doctors explain how to tell the difference, plus what treatment should look like for each.

That’s because so many of the symptoms overlap, but there is one major difference. “The flu is like a cold on steroids,” says Joseph Ladapo, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. “I’ve heard patients say, ‘This is worst I’ve ever felt in my life.’”

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The flu and a cold are both respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses, but a cold usually isn't nearly as intense as the flu . With a cold , for example, you might experience a runny or stuffy nose. Dr . Ryan Light of Tidewater Physicians Multispecialty Group tells News 3 in Norfolk, Virginia that , "A

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In order to stop your sniffles, you need to know what’s causing them in the first place. Here, doctors explain how to distinguish a cold from the flu, so you can seek the treatment that will actually make you feel better.

Cold vs. flu symptoms

How to Tell If Your Nasty Cold Is Actually the Flu, According to Doctors© Emily Schiff-Slater Flu vs Cold infographic

Part of the reason it can be tricky to know whether you have the flu or a cold is simply because there are only a few minor differences between their symptoms.

Cold symptoms

Your symptoms show up primarily above your neck:

  • Runny nose
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Slightly swollen glands
  • Minor aches and pains

Flu symptoms

You have symptoms above and below your neck. You have all the signs of a cold, plus the following:

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Viruses cause colds and the flu . Both are respiratory infections. According to the American Lung Association, more than 200 different viruses can cause the common cold . However, according to the Mayo Clinic, the rhinovirus is most often the one that makes people sneeze and sniffle.

  • Fever over 100°F
  • Chest coughs
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Full-body aches

So...do I have the flu or a cold?

The biggest differences between the symptoms of influenza and a cold are their severity and how quickly they develop. With the flu, “one day you are feeling OK, and the next, all your symptoms arise,” says Michael P. Angarone, DO, professor of infectious diseases at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Compared to the flu, a cold is milder and symptoms gradually set in. “If you don’t feel horrible, you probably don’t have flu,” Dr. Ladapo says.

Still not sure? Ask yourself these questions:

How severe does this feel?

Cold: You feel mildly icky, and things get worse slowly. The first signs might include slight aches, a scratchy throat, a headache, and/or a low-grade fever.

Flu: The flu hits you like a speeding train. You may first feel feverish at work, and by the time you get home you can barely muster enough energy to climb your porch steps. Every inch of you aches.

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How do you distinguish the flu from its less perilous cousin, a cold ? Symptoms often overlap, so when should you be concerned? The nasal symptoms are the most prominent and annoying feature in the common cold . As I often tell my patients, it causes a significant amount of fluid buildup in the face

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Can I get out of bed?

Cold: Yes, you can walk around. Though you might not want to commute to work or schlep the kids around, you can manage.

Flu: Absolutely not—you’re flat on your back. Extreme fatigue is going to incapacitate you for at least a few days.

Cold vs. flu treatment

If you aren’t sure which you have and how to treat it, talk to your healthcare provider over the phone or make an appointment to see them in person, Dr. Angarone recommends.

Cold treatment

Take it easy and rest up. Keep a water bottle nearby to ensure you’re staying hydrated. Popping a pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen may temporarily perk you up.

A cold can follow you around for as long as 10 days, but you don’t have to quarantine yourself the entire time. Once you start feeling better, you’re no longer very contagious, so you can head back to work as long as you’re up for it.

Flu treatment

Plan to hunker down for three to seven days, and ask your MD about Tamiflu. “If taken within 48 hours, it will help you get better sooner and reduce the chance that you’ll pass the virus to others,” says William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease expert and professor of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University. You can go back to normal life 24 hours after your fever recedes on its own, but you’ll probably be moving slowly for a bit.

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That pesky cold may actually be masquerading as bronchitis, the flu , or even pneumonia. Experts reveal how to tell the difference. “Your doctor has to do a swab test to identify strep,” she says. Because strep is caused by bacteria, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the test is positive.

Everyday Health Lung & Respiratory Cold & Flu . When Should You See a Doctor for a Cold ? If your cold lasts much longer than two weeks or keeps coming back, allergies, sinusitis, or But if the signs and symptom are looking questionable, it's worth a trip. According to the American Academy of

When to see a doctor about your cold or flu symptoms

Call your doctor if you experience the following:

  • Trouble breathing or eating (call ASAP)
  • You have a fever higher than 100.4°F
  • You’re experiencing severe vomiting
  • Coughing persists longer than 10 days, is driving you crazy, or is making it hard to sleep
  • Upper-respiratory symptoms last more than a week or 10 days

Gallery: 15 Simple Ways to Fend Off Colds and Flu (Provided by Cheapism)

How to Tell If Your Nasty Cold Is Actually the Flu, According to Doctors
Read More

Cold Vs. Flu: What Is the Difference? .
It can be hard to tell whether you've come down with the flu or just have a nasty cold. Here's a guide to common cold vs. flu symptoms. If you have a hard time differentiating between a cold vs. the flu, that's probably because their symptoms can overlap. "Influenza appears on the 'differential diagnosis' of many conditions affecting patients during the winter months, including the common cold and upper and lower respiratory infections," says Norman Moore, Ph.D., director of infectious diseases scientific affairs for Abbott. In other words, they share similar signs and symptoms.

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