Is It Just a Cold or Something More?

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Is It Just a Cold or Something More?
You wake up sneezing, coughing, feeling achy all over and have a fever. Do you have the flu, or is just a cold? Learn how to differentiate between the flu and a cold with these tips.

Cold Symptoms
Many times, a sore throat lasting one or two days is the first symptom of a cold. Other symptoms that follow include runny nose, congestion and coughing. Most adults do not experience fever with a cold, but sometimes children do.

Flu Symptoms
While colds often come on gradually, flu symptoms typically strike quickly. Symptoms include sore throat, fever, headache, muscle pain, congestion, fatigue and coughing.

Length of Illness
A cold is less severe than the flu, and cold symptoms typically only last for a few days or sometimes up to a week. If your cold symptoms do not improve after a week, see your doctor as you may have a bacterial infection and need antibiotics. Cold symptoms are easily mistaken for allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and sinus infections.

“The majority of flu symptoms improve within four to five days, but some symptoms, especially cough, may linger for one to two weeks,” said Geoff Coates, MD, medical director at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Frisco Urgent Care Clinic, “If left untreated, the flu can also lead to more severe health problems like pneumonia, predominantly in young, elderly and those with lung, heart or chronic medical problems.”

What’s the Difference
Flu and cold symptoms are often very similar. Be sure to take your temperature to help differentiate between the two viruses. A temperature of over 101 degrees Fahrenheit may indicate that you have the flu. An initial fever is a common symptom at the onset of the flu. In addition, you are more likely to experience body aches when you have the flu. Dr. Coates encourages all people six months and older to get their flu vaccination annually. He also encourages anyone who feels they may have the flu to see their physician as soon as possible.

Talk with your doctor about flu prevention techniques.