The Main Differences Between A Cold And The Flu

Although there are two very similar conditions, there are many differences between a cold and the flu, such as the viruses themselves, diagnoses and prescribed treatments.
The main differences between a cold and the flu

When you feel respiratory discomfort, you may be wondering if you are suffering from a cold or flu. Both conditions are viral, which means they spread through viruses. But what are the differences between a cold and the flu?

Discover the differences between these two very common conditions in this article!

The causes of colds and flu

A cold can be caused by more than 200 viruses. But the cause of the flu is the flu virus.

Regarding the various viruses, the World Health Organization has categorized some of the most significant in seasonal flu. These viruses can spread relatively easily since they are in the environment and on any surface where they can live up to 24 hours. In the same way, those who are already infected can get other patients by coughing, spitting and sneezing.

Existing vaccines are usually prescribed for influenza A and B because they are considered the most virulent strains. Doctors recommend that the vulnerable population be vaccinated once a year before winter. The elderly, pregnant women, sick people, health workers and children are considered vulnerable.

The differences

A cold causes moderate discomfort in the nose and throat. Meanwhile, the flu can affect the airways in general, but it also leads to fatigue and pain in the body.

The differences between a cold and the flu

When it comes to the weather, people can catch a cold at any time of the year, even if they are not so frequent in the summer. However , the flu is usually seasonal and spreads more in the winter.

The various symptoms of colds and flu

The most common symptoms of colds are nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing and coughing. You may also have a sore throat and a slight increase in body temperature that does not turn into a fever (37.5 ° C)

Influenza symptoms include minor nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, fatigue (tiredness), muscle aches, headache and fever (above 38.3 ° C).

These symptoms vary in severity. Overall, the flu is more exhausting than the common cold. However, both can lead to serious health complications.

The treatment for each condition

Doctor with mask

Since both conditions are caused by a virus, the treatment is symptomatic, which means that it only seeks to relieve symptoms. The flu lasts longer than a cold, and there is no cure for it.

  • These are not bacterial processes, which means that antibiotics should not be taken except when complications occur, and they should always be prescribed by a doctor.
  • Self-medication is not recommended to prevent them. Only medical personnel are qualified to treat these conditions.
  • Treatment includes sedatives, antitussives, antihistamines, expectorants, mucolytics, painkillers and colds, depending on the case.

How to diagnose and how long they last

Most people do not know how long these conditions last.

In general, it is enough to describe your symptoms to your doctor to get the diagnosis. At their discretion, they may request blood tests and swallowing.

A common cold can last up to five days from the onset of symptoms, which will manifest gradually. However, the discomfort from the flu slowly worsens. This condition can last between 7 and 15 days.

If one of the two conditions lasts longer than expected, you should see a doctor immediately to avoid further complications.

Possible complications

Sick woman

The possible complications of colds or flu include otitis, bronchitis, pneumonia and sinusitis.

These conditions have their own clinical picture, both in how they are diagnosed and treated. They can come from bacterial infections.

Home care for colds and flu

Although only doctors are authorized to prescribe treatment, certain home care measures can help you cope with these conditions.

In the strongest stage of colds and flu, the following things are important:

  • Physical rest. The body is busy fighting the disease, so it needs as much energy as possible.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help make mucus liquid and relieve airway congestion.
  • The use of humidifiers is very beneficial because it is known that a dry environment promotes the growth of bacteria in the airways.
  • For personal hygiene, wash your hands frequently to reduce the risk of catching a cold or flu. Also maintain good general hygiene.

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