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Is it a cold or flu?

Although both colds and flu are respiratory illnesses, the cold virus is very different to the flu

When you start to experience the coughing, sneezing, sore throat and runny nose and maybe a fever too, it’s difficult to know whether you’re suffering from cold symptoms or are perhaps suffering from flu.

Over 30% of people regard flu as nothing more than a ‘bad cold’, but it can be a lot more serious than that, especially if you belong to a vulnerable group such as children or those aged over 65.

The difference between a cold and flu

Although both colds and flu are respiratory illnesses, the cold virus is very different to the flu (or influenza) virus as it is much milder. A cold can make you feel bad for a few days to maybe a week, whilst the flu is much more serious making you ill for several more days and sometimes weeks. In some cases, influenza can lead to complications such as pneumonia and sadly, many people lose their lives from complications arising from flu.

So, how can I tell the difference between a cold and flu?

Incredibly, whilst there are around 200 viruses that cause a cold, there are only three that cause the flu. However, there are several strains of the flu virus.

Symptoms of a cold

Although similar to one another, the symptoms of a cold and flu are different. You are likely suffering from a cold if you develop a sore throat, a blocked or runny nose and suffer from coughing and sneezing.

If you have a cold you may suffer from a mild fever, tiredness and a headache. These symptoms will develop over a day or two and should recede after a few days.

Symptoms of the flu

Flu symptoms often develop much more quickly and include a sudden fever, aches and pains in your muscles, sweating and a feeling of tiredness and exhaustion. You also suffer from coughing and sneezing, and some colds can cause muscular aches and pains making it difficult to tell if it really is the flu or just a severe cold.

Controlling the symptoms of a cold or flu

If you are fit and healthy and not a member of one of the vulnerable groups you can generally mange the symptoms of a cold or flu yourself by resting, drinking plenty of fluids and taking painkillers to help relieve aches and pains.

There are also natural remedies available, including EchinaCold, a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the relief of symptoms of the common cold and influenza type infections, exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy. Always read the label.

Stop colds and flu viruses spreading

There are lots of things you can do to limit the spread of colds and flu viruses including

  • Coughing or sneezing into a tissue and discarding it immediately
  • Washing your hands or using an anti-bacterial gel often
  • Having a flu jab if you’re in a vulnerable group and are eligible

When to call a doctor

Regardless of whether you have the cold or flu virus, it’s important to seek medical advice if your symptoms persist or become more severe, especially if you suffer from a chronic condition, such as asthma, or you start to experience severe headaches or abdominal or chest pains.

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