Flu symptoms are more severe than cold symptoms. Flu can lead to sinus and ear infections, pneumonia, and sepsis.
To determine whether your symptoms are from a cold or from the flu, you need to see your doctor. Your doctor will run tests that can help determine what’s behind your symptoms. If your doctor diagnoses a cold, you’ll only need to treat your symptoms until the virus has run its course. These treatments can include using over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications, staying hydrated, and getting plenty of rest.
Taking flu medicine early in the virus’ cycle may help reduce severity of illness and shorten the time that you are sick. Rest and hydration are also beneficial for people with the flu. Much like the common cold, the flu just needs time to work its way through your body.
Influenza is a serious virus that leads to many illnesses each year. You don’t have to be young or have a compromised immune system to get gravely ill from the infection. Healthy people can get sick from the flu and spread it to friends and family. In some cases, the flu can even be deadly.
How to Identify?
People with either illness often experience:
- runny or stuffy nose
- body aches
- general fatigue
- The flu almost always causes an increase in your body temperature. This is also known as a fever. Most flu-related fevers range from a low-grade fever around 100°F (37.8°C) to as high as 104°F (40°C).
- A dry, persistent cough is common with the flu. The cough may worsen, becoming uncomfortable and painful. You may also experience shortness of breath or chest discomfort during this time.
- Muscle aches. These flu-related muscle pains are most common in your neck, back, arms, and legs. They can often be severe, making it difficult to move even when trying to perform basic tasks.
- Your first symptom of the flu may be a severe headache. Sometimes eye symptoms, including light and sound sensitivity, go along with your headache.
- Feeling tired is a not-so-obvious symptom of the flu. Feeling generally unwell can be a sign of many conditions. These feelings of tiredness and fatigue may come on fast and be difficult to overcome.
What to Do?
It’s important you stay home and avoid contact with other people when you first notice flu symptoms.
You should also:
- Drink plenty of fluids. This includes water, soup, and low-sugar flavored drinks.
- Treat symptoms such as headache and fever with OTC medications.
- Wash your hands to prevent spreading the virus to other surfaces or to other people in your house.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues. Immediately dispose of those tissues.
If symptoms become worse, call your doctor.