Influenza, referred to as the flu, and the common cold share many of the same symptoms.
The flu and the common cold are caused by viruses. You can’t take an antibiotic for either, as they’re not bacterial infections.
You may experience a stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat with both viruses. Typically, a common cold comes on gradually, while flu symptoms such as fever, body aches and chills come on abruptly. A common cold may last up to 10 or 14 days, whereas the flu runs its course in less time.
Influenza is a serious condition that leads to greater than 80,000 deaths per year. One of the most serious complications of the flu is a bacterial infection of the lungs called pneumonia, which can be treated with antibiotics.
Each year scientists try to predict what type of influenza may occur the following year and based on that information they manufacture a vaccine. The vaccine does not always work, but it is the best avenue for flu prevention, coupled with minimizing exposure and frequent hand washing. These viruses are spread by droplet nuclei, which means when someone coughs or sneezes the virus is spread through the air. It is important to wear a mask if you have these symptoms and you are out in public.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe an antiviral medication within the first 48 hours of symptoms/diagnosis of influenza. This medication doesn’t cure it, but it can shorten the duration of the virus.
Just because the flu and the common cold are caused by a virus doesn’t mean you’re not sick and you don’t feel miserable! You can treat symptoms like fever and body aches with Tylenol or Motrin. Also, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest.