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The Cold vs Flu Conundrum

Health • 08 May 2017

As winter rapidly approaches, sniffles and snuffles seem to be the order of the day. But how do you know if your itchy throat and stuffy head is something to soldier through or something to see the doctor about?



How do I know if I have a cold or flu?

The main difference between a cold and flu is body aches, extreme exhaustion and temperature. While you will rarely experience aches, tiredness and temperatures with a cold, flu almost always has these symptoms - along with chest discomfort and bad coughing. If left untreated, a cold will more than likely run its course, but if flu is untreated it can lead to pneumonia, bronchitis and even a possible hospital stay.

How long does flu last for?

Flu symptoms can last up to two weeks, but usually show signs of relief within two to five days after treatment. A common trait of the flu is starting to feeling better, and then feeling worse again. If this happens, continue to rest and take your medication.   

How do I treat colds and flu?

Both colds and flu can be treated with over the counter with cold and cough medication. If your symptoms do not begin to improve within a day or two of this medication, you are probably suffering from flu. You should see a doctor who may prescribe you anti-viral medication. It is very important to rest and complete your medication course when suffering from colds and flu – both to heal yourself properly and to prevent the spread of the virus to others.  

How to prevent contracting flu

The best way to prevent flu is by washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water and to avoid touching your face with your hands as much as possible. Having a flu vaccine at the beginning of autumn may also prevent colds and flu. Eating foods high in vitamin C, such as tomatoes, oranges and grapefruits, also helps prevent contracting colds and flu.

What will happen if I have a flu vaccine?

A flu vaccine is usually an injection in the arm and contains the antibodies for different strains of flu (usually three of the most common strains). The vaccine will take about two weeks to kick in, so it’s best to get it just before the beginning of autumn.

After your shot, you may experience normal side effects such as swelling and tenderness around the area of the injection, aches and pains, slight fever and sometimes even nausea. If you begin experiencing high fever, extreme dizziness, a racing heart, paleness hoarseness, hives, swelling around the lips or eyes and trouble breathing, you should see a medical professional straight away.

Learn more about the difference between Colds and Flu:

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