Cold vs. Flu: 10 Signs & Symptoms

 “A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.”  This quote by Tom Stoppard is a call to action concerning your personal healthcare.  But to act, you must have knowledge. Jay Harold has provided information on one of the fundamental questions in healthcare. “Do I have a Cold or Flu?”
The answer is important because almost everyone is at risk or have a loved one at risk for Developing Flu-Related Complications. These include pregnant women, residents of nursing homes and children younger than 5. People with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease are also at risk for the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  is an excellent source of information about flu and cold. Here’s a chart from the CDC showing the signs and symptoms of the cold and flu:

Flu vs. Cold

Signs and Symptoms Influenza Cold
Symptom onset Abrupt Gradual
Fever Usual; lasts 3-4 days Rare
Aches Usual; often severe Slight
Chills Fairly common Uncommon
Fatigue, weakness Usual Sometimes
Sneezing Sometimes Common
Stuffy nose Sometimes Common
Sore throat Sometimes Common
Chest discomfort, cough Common; can be severe Mild to moderate; a hacking cough
Headache Common Rare

Adults 65 years of age and older are especially at Risk for Flu.

It has been recognized for many years that people 65 years and older are at greater risk for serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults because human immune defenses become weaker with age. While flu seasons can vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease. In recent years, for example, it’s estimated that between 71 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older and between 54 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among individuals in that age group. So influenza is often quite severe for people 65 and older.

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Flu Complications

Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from the flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.

What are the emergency warning signs of Flu Sickness?

In children

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:

  • Being unable to eat
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Have no tears when crying
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
    Cold vs. Flu: 10 Signs & Symptoms

    Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen is a sign of Flu Sickness.

There is no cure for the Common Cold

MedlinePlus states that the cold is probably the most common illness. In the course of a year, people in the United States suffer 1 billion colds. For relief, try:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Drinking fluids
  • Gargling with warm salt water
  • Using cough drops or throat sprays
  • Taking over-the-counter pain or cold medicines

However, do not give aspirin to children. And do not give cough medicine to children under four.

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”  Mahatma Gandhi’s quote points out that to live and enjoy life, you need to work on your health.
Enjoyed this post? Share it and read more here.  Questions?  “Ask the Pharmacist a Question!”  Jay Harold is always looking out for your health and wealth.




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