Flu or Cold Symptoms?
What are common flu symptoms? continued...
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. If you notice shortness of breath, let your doctor know. Another common sign of pneumonia is fever that comes back after having been gone for a day or two.
Just like cold viruses, flu viruses enter your body through the mucous membranes of the 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 hands germ-free with frequent washing to prevent both flu and cold symptoms.
Is it flu or cold symptoms?
How do you know if you have flu or cold symptoms? Take your temperature, say many experts. Flu symptoms often mimic cold symptoms with nasal congestion, cough, aches, and malaise. But a common cold rarely has symptoms of fever above 101 degrees. With flu symptoms, you will probably have a fever initially with the flu virus and you will feel miserable. Body and muscle aches are also more common with the flu. This table can help determine if you have cold or flu symptoms.
Sometimes, usually mild
Usual; higher (100-102 F; occasionally higher, especially in young children); lasts 3 to 4 days
General Aches, Pains
Usual; often severe
Usual; can last 2 to 3 weeks
Usual; at the beginning of the illness
Chest Discomfort, Cough
Mild to moderate; hacking cough
Common; can become severe
Sinus congestion; middle ear infection
Sinusitis, bronchitis, ear infection, pneumonia; can be life-threatening
Wash hands often; avoid close contact with anyone with a cold
Wash hands often; avoid close contact with anyone who has flu symptoms; get the annual flu vaccine
Decongestants; pain reliever/fever reducer medicines
Decongestants, pain relievers, or fever reducers are available over the counter; over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should not be given to young children; prescription antiviral drugs for flu may be given in some cases; call your doctor for more information about treatment.
Usually, the time of year will give you some sense of what you're dealing with. The standard flu season runs from fall to spring of the next year.