Knowing if you have a cold or the flu can be difficult. Both the flu and a cold can appear to have some similarities, and they both tend to affect the same area of our body. Understanding the difference between the cold and the flu can be important for understanding which you have and the best route for a speedy recovery. We thought we’d shed some light on this topic and provide a complete guide to understanding the differences and how to deal with each.
A Cold vs. The Flu
Both a cold and the flu are infections that occur in the respiratory tract and normally target the throat, ears, and nose. Aside from this and the fact that both are common illnesses, there is actually not very much else that is similar between the two.
While they may affect the same areas of the body, the flu and a cold are different viruses have different symptoms and also different recoveries.
The flu has a much more devastating effect on our body, and in many cases, the severity of the flu can be enough to know it is not a common cold. The flu can potentially cause very serious health issues like pneumonia, and when not treated by a medical professional, can sometimes be fatal.
- Pains & Aches
While overall body pain is associated with the flu, this alone shouldn’t raise too much concern. Body aches are common with infections like the flu since our body uses white blood cells to fight off the sickness leaving our muscles more vulnerable and thus, extremely sore and achy.
During colds, it is also possible to feel pains and muscle fatigue, but these will be minimal and should not have any bearing on your daily routine (as opposed to flu body aches).
- Heating Up & Fever
A fever shows that our bodies are attempting to fight off a sickness or disease and can be triggered by either a viral or bacterial infection. When you suffer from a fever you can experience such things as extreme sweating, weakness, loss of appetite, chills, and even dehydration.
While fevers can happen when you are fighting the flu, rarely, should a cold cause you to run a fever. In the event a cold is causing a fever, this could mean a complication has arisen or you may be suffering from something completely different.
If you ever have a fever of over 104 degrees, seek out urgent medical care as soon as you can as a fever this high can be extremely dangerous.
- Runny Nose, Sneezing, & Throat Pain
With a cold, some common side effects can include congestion, sneezing, and a sore throat. While you may experience some similar symptoms with the flu, a runny nose will not be one of them. If you do have a runny nose, you know it is a common cold and don’t need to worry about seeking medical help.
When Will I Notice Symptoms?
The easiest way to know if you have the flu or just a cold is how quickly you begin noticing symptoms. For colds, slight symptoms can start in roughly 10 hours, but the symptoms will progressively appear, and a full-blown cold may follow.
With the flu, it is like having a bomb exploding, as you experience everything in one sudden swoop. In as little as one day your body may be suffering from a high fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. While not the case for everyone, some individuals may feel all these symptoms all at once in an instant.
Generally, the winter months are when we see the height of both colds and flu – although that doesn’t mean you can’t get them at another time. While the flu has a yearly vaccine, there is no such thing for the common cold, and neither one has an instant cure. A cold and the flu are extremely contagious and can be passed via air particles.
Such simple things like covering your mouth while coughing and washing your hands frequently are ways to deter the spread of both the flu and a cold – these practices are something we are all more familiar with due to COVID-19.
With the emergence of COVID-19, and since many symptoms, especially early on, may appear similar to the cold and flu, it is important to get properly tested if you think you may have encountered someone with COVID-19. Our team at Advanced Urgent Care of Pasadena is proud to offer COVID-10 testing near you.
Such easy things like hand washing/sanitization, wearing a face mask, and practicing social distancing can make a huge difference in the spread of COVID-19.
Advanced Urgent Care of Pasadena
Our urgent care clinic is always happy to answer any health-related questions you may have about the common cold, flu, COVID-19, or anything else. Some of our medical services include x-rays, same-day STD testing, telehealth services, and much more. If you need a prescription or medication, we also have a lab and a pharmacy at your disposal.
To learn more about our urgent care solutions and services, please contact our team at Advanced Urgent Care of Pasadena today!