This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice or to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease or condition. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider.
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Is it a Cold or the Flu?
The cold and flu are contagious viral infections of the throat, nose, and lungs. The common cold and flu have similar symptoms; however, generally the symptoms of a cold are milder than the flu. Both a cold and flu may take a few days to less than two weeks for recovery. The flu can cause serious health problems that require hospitalization, especially for very young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and individuals with medical conditions.
Cold Symptoms usually appear slowly and can include:
Flu Symptoms usually occur suddenly and can include:
When to Call the Doctor
If you have any concerns about your health, do not hesitate to contact a doctor. The following are some indicators that should alert you to be evaluated by a healthcare professional:
For the flu, your doctor will probably recommend ways to alleviate your symptoms as your body fights the virus. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication, which can shorten the length of time that you are sick with the flu, and which may help alleviate some symptoms. These medicines come as pills, syrup, or in an inhaler.
Treating Your Symptoms
There’s no cure for the cold or flu; however, you can treat your symptoms as your body fights off the virus.
How the Cold and Flu Spreads
Flu and cold viruses spread easily when small droplets of the saliva of an infected person come in contact with the mouths, eyes, or noses of people nearby. This can happen when an infected person talks, coughs, sneezes, or shares food or beverages with someone else. Less often, the flu can spread by touching an object with flu virus on it, such as a doorknob, and then touching your own eyes, nose, or mouth. The flu can be spread to others from one day before they have symptoms to several days after they get sick. Since it is extremely contagious, people who have the flu should stay home until the doctor recommends returning to school or work.
Preventing the Cold and Flu
The best way to protect against the flu is by getting the flu vaccine. Doctors recommend that all adults and children 6 months of age and older get the vaccine every year. If you get the flu vaccine while you are pregnant, you may protect your child from the flu for their first six months of life.
Other measures you can take to protect yourself from the cold and flu virus include: