Is it a Cold or Is it the Flu?
Flu or Cold Symptoms?
A cold is a milder respiratory illness than the flu. Although cold symptoms can make you feel bad for a few days, flu symptoms can make you feel quite ill for a few days to weeks. The flu – whether it’s typical seasonal flu or the swine flu virus – can also result in serious health problems such as pneumonia and hospitalizations.
What are common cold symptoms?
Cold symptoms usually begin with a sore throat, which often goes away after a day or two. Nasal symptoms, runny nose, and congestion follow, along with a cough by the fourth and fifth days. Fever is uncommon in adults, but a slight fever is possible. Children are more likely to have a fever with a cold.
With cold symptoms, your nose can have watery nasal secretions for the first few days. Later, these become thicker and darker. Dark mucus is natural and does not usually mean you have developed a bacterial infection, such as a sinus infection.
Several hundred different viruses may cause your cold symptoms.
How long do cold symptoms last?
Cold symptoms usually last for about a week. If cold symptoms do not seem to be improving after a week, you may have a bacterial infection, which means you may need antibiotics.
What are common flu symptoms?
Flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms and come on quickly. Symptoms of swine flu or other flu include sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches and soreness, congestion, and cough. Swine flu in particular is also associated with vomiting and diarrhea.
Most flu symptoms gradually improve over two to five days, but it’s not uncommon to feel run down for a week or more. A common complication of the flu is pneumonia, particularly in the young, elderly, or people with lung or heart problems.
Just like cold viruses, flu viruses enter your body through the mucous membranes of your nose, eyes, or mouth. Every time you touch your hand to one of these areas, you could be infecting yourself with a virus, which makes it very important to keep your hands germ-free with frequent washing to prevent both flu and cold symptoms.