Cold vs. flu

462450237You wake up and feel ill. It’s fall and you think to yourself it’s allergies or it’s a cold. Then you remember you haven’t gotten your flu shot. Oh no! Maybe it’s the flu. Don’t worry. You’re not alone. While autumn is a favorite season for many, it’s also host to a number of illnesses. So how do you know if you have a cold or the flu?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu is worse than the common cold. Because the flu is highly contagious, there are a number of precautions you can take to help keep you well.

 

First, talk to your doctor about getting a flu shot. The flu vaccine is the No. 1 way to prevent getting the flu. The CDC recommends that individuals should ideally get the vaccination by October, but the key is to get vaccinated.

Not only does the vaccine help you, it also helps those individuals around you who fall into a high-risk category, including children, pregnant women, older adults and people with chronic illnesses.

Second, if you are sick avoid close contact with others – avoid work, going to the gym, running errands, etc. If you are healthy, avoid contact with people who are sick. When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose.

Wash your hands! This is the best way to stop the spread of germs. The CDC recommends handwashing with these five effective steps – wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry.

With a cold, treating the symptoms may make you feel better. It won’t make your cold dissipate, but it is the encouraged form of relief. Also if you have a cold (or the flu), antibiotics are NOT needed. Seek immediate medical attention if you have issues with breathing, chest pain, vomiting that doesn’t go away, abdominal pain, or if your symptoms do not improve after seven to 10 days.

If you do get the flu, call your doctor, especially high risk individuals. Physicians will often prescribe antiviral drugs which fight the flu viruses in your body.

The most important thing to remember this fall is to take care of yourself and those around you. Take the necessary precautions to help yourself stay healthy this fall.

Know the signs:

Flu Symptoms

  • Fever or feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting or diarrhea (more common in children than adults)

Cold Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Low-grade fever
  • Mild headache
  • Nasal congestion

To find a physician, visit the UofL Physicians website.