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WHAT ARE THE DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN A COMMON COLD AND INFLUENZA?

The main difference between a common cold and influenza is the severity of the symptoms. However, you can find effective cold and flu treatment by consulting your doctor. A person with influenza may have high fevers, chills, dry coughs, headaches, or extreme fatigue. The virus can spread to more than just the upper respiratory system. Moreover, it can spread to nearly every organ in your body. The disease can even produce neurological symptoms like confusion and lethargy. On the other hand, the common cold typically has a lesser impact on your body. It only causes symptoms in the upper respiratory system. They include runny noses, sore throats, or coughs.

What are the symptoms of a common cold?

Common symptoms of cold include blocked or runny nose, sneezing, and red eyes. Moreover, fever and body pains are frequent in children but not in adults. These signs typically grow over one to two days. In addition, they may resolve after about a week. The symptoms can be very similar to those of flu. Therefore, consult your doctor before looking for cold or flu treatment.

There is no specific treatment for the common cold. However, pain relievers and cough medicines can relieve your condition.

What are the symptoms of flu?

The frequent signs of influenza can be fever, chills, dry cough, headache, muscle aches, and extreme fatigue. They usually develop within two days. Moreover, these symptoms can last for a week or more. In children, there can also be nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Flu symptoms are alike to those of colds. However, with flu, you may experience vomiting and diarrhea.

Treatment consists of the following-

  • Drinking lots of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower fever and relieve pain
  • Resting
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Taking plenty of sleep

If you are worried about your signs, see your GP.

What causes the common cold?

The common cold is what is known as a viral infection. One of more than 200 types of rhinovirus causes this disease. Know that the influenza virus is different. Therefore, consult your doctor for cold and flu treatment before using any medicine. Those viruses spread easily. Moreover, they can survive on surfaces, such as doorknobs and countertops for hours. You will not get ill from a similar virus two times. However, once you have had one common cold, you may get another.

When is a person prone to the common cold?

Most cases occur during the fall and winter months when your resistance is low. Moreover, you may also get the disease when you are in close contact with others. You can also pick up a cold from touching an object or surface contaminated with rhinoviruses.

The common cold is annoying. However, it is rarely serious. Most people get well within a week or 10 days.

Can cold turn severe?

If you have some medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, the common cold can be more serious. Therefore, you should contact your doctor if your symptoms worsen after 3 to 4 days. Seek immediate medical attention if your condition does not improve within 7 to 10 days. Your doctor may identify if you have a cold or influenza. Accordingly, he or she may prescribe effective cold or flu treatment. If you have asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or any bleeding disorders, contact your doctor if you develop a fever. Your symptoms may indicate that you have a secondary infection. It can be pneumonia.

What causes flu?

Flu viruses are the most common cause of the disease. Its symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle and body aches, headaches, and fatigue. Moreover, some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea.

How does the infection transmit?

Flu viruses can spread mainly from person to person via coughing and sneezing. However, you may become infected with the virus by-

  • Breathing in the influenza virus, passed through the air by an infected person (cough or sneeze).
  • Touching mouth, nose, or eyes with hands having influenza viruses on them.
  • Touching surfaces or objects with influenza viruses on them and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.

Your doctor may conduct a diagnosis to identify the severity of your disease. Accordingly, He or she may prescribe effective flu treatment.

Who is at more risk of having influenza?

People who are at high risk for serious flu complications are-

  • Pregnant women
  • Children under the age of 5 years
  • Seniors 65 years old and older
  • Inhabitants of treatment homes
  • All people over 6 months of age with certain medical conditions such as-
    • Asthma or other chronic respiratory diseases
    • Heart disease (such as congestive heart failure)
    • Kidney disease
    • Liver disease
    • Blood disorders (such as sickle cell anemia)
    • Neurologic or neuro-developmental conditions
    • Diseases that abate the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS or cancer
  • Obesity

What medications can help treat the common cold?

The common cold is a viral infection. It typically affects the upper respiratory tract.

  • Antiviral medications are generally not effective in relieving symptoms or shortening the course of the illness. Nevertheless, they may prevent some complications.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often helpful because of their analgesic and antipyretic effects. However, they may have some untoward effects.
  • Antihistamines are not effective in the common cold. Moreover, they can produce drowsiness or other side effects.

Before using any medication, talk to your doctor for a diagnosis. It may help you know your disease. Accordingly, your doctor may prescribe effective cold or flu treatment.

The common cold is usually self-limited, lasting 5 to 10 days on average. This is why symptomatic treatment aims at reducing discomfort and improving the patient’s ability to function despite the infection. The following are some over-the-counter medications that can treat symptoms due to the common cold.

  • Acetaminophen

It is an active metabolite of phenacetin, an effective analgesic agent. The drug is particularly useful in controlling fever and other symptoms caused by inflammatory reactions accompanying upper respiratory infections. Moreover, you can use the medication with other cold remedies.

  • Ibuprofen

It is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. The medication reduces fever, headache, earache, and generalized aches and pains associated with the common cold. You can use the medication with decongestants for symptomatic relief of sinusitis. Generally, these products are used only short-term, not exceeding 5 days at a time. However, you can use them for long with caution.

  • Antihistamines

They relieve itching and rhinorrhea associated with the common cold. The most commonly prescribed H-1 receptor antagonists are brompheniramine (Dimetane) and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton).

Before using any cold or flu treatment, consult your doctor for a diagnosis. It may help in ruling out your disease. Nevertheless, other medications for the common cold are-

  • Combination meds

Antihistamine-decongestant combinations include phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine and a second antihistamine. However, do not use these remedies for more than several days. They can cause drowsiness, impaired motor skills, and a decreased cognitive function.

  • Nasal sprays

These sprays contain oxymetazoline, which may provide quick but temporary relief from nasal congestion. The medication works by narrowing swollen blood vessels in the linings of the nostrils. Eventually, it reduces a stuffy feeling and helps drain mucus.

Saline nasal sprays are soothing. They can help loosen thick secretions so they can drain from the nose. Moreover, these sprays can also help shrink swollen nasal membranes. Eventually, it makes breathing easier.

Can home treatments help?

Cold symptoms often abate more quickly, if a person lies down and rests or sleeps rather than sitting up to sip fluids. In addition, drinks containing vitamin C may help alleviate symptoms associated with the common cold. However, vitamin C does not shorten colds, even though it may improve the sense of well-being during one.

What medications can help in flu treatment?

The World Health Organization (WHO) listed the following drugs as effective treatments for this year’s flu-

  • Relenza
  • Tamiflu
  • Flumadine

Cipro has augmented this list. The WHO believes it to be a significant addition to its original recommendations.

Tamiflu

It is the best-known of the three global recommendations by the WHO. Approved in 1999, Tamiflu can reduce flu symptoms. Moreover, the medication can also shorten the disease’s duration if taken within 48 hours of its onset.

Tamiflu is not an outright cure for flu. It works only on certain forms of the disease. Moreover, the medication can reduce the effects of flu on your body rather than destroy all viral particles or prevent their transmission.

The drug can treat both influenza A and B viruses. However, its most common side effects are headaches, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

Relenza

It is a drug developed in the 1980s to fight the flu. The medication received its approval from the FDA in November 1999. The treatment for Relenza should begin within 48 hours of symptoms onset. Moreover, you must take it twice daily for five consecutive days.

This flu treatment has fewer side effects than Tamiflu. However, you must take it before the onset of symptoms for full effectiveness. The drug works on both type A and B viruses. Nevertheless, its most common side effects are coughing, nosebleeds, headaches, and vomiting.

Flumadine

It is the third drug in the WHO’s list of recommended treatments for flu. Approved by the FDA in 1981, it works to lessen flu symptoms when taken within 48 hours of its onset. Know that there are no Flumadine treatments for type B flu. The drug does not destroy the virus. However, it can reduce fever, body aches, and other flu symptoms.

The most common side effects of Flumadine are dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, and headache. You must take it daily over five consecutive days.

Cipro

This medication is another drug recommended by the WHO. Its main benefit is that it reduces the risk of being infected with flu when taken within 24 hours after exposure to at-risk individuals. According to doctors treating patients with Cipro, the drug reduces the length. Moreover, it also decreases the severity of flu symptoms if taken within 48 hours of exposure to types A and B flu viruses.

This flu treatment has a longer period of effectiveness than Tamiflu or Relenza. You must take it daily for 10 days. Nevertheless, limit using it with no more than one 500-milligram dose every 12 hours. Like all other influenza meds, Cipro does not destroy the virus. It only mitigates its effects on your body.

The drug’s most common side effect is nausea. However, you can alleviate it by taking the medication with food.

Most flu remedies aim at alleviating symptoms and speeding up recovery once the infection has already been contracted rather than preventing the disease. These include-

  • Analgesics to ease body aches,
  • Antipyretics for fever
  • Decongestants for nasal congestion

According to WHO recommendations, you should only use these drugs if your symptoms become unbearable.

What are some tips you can use to prevent getting sick?

  • Avoid touching your face

Most germs can transmit during hand-to-face contact. Therefore, avoid touching your face as much as possible. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, or mouth too. Germs can often spread through touch. For that reason, do not touch these areas, even when using tissues. Doing so can help with your cold or flu treatment.

  • Use good hygiene

Avoid sharing cups or other utensils to minimize exposure to viruses that may be lingering on surfaces. In addition, wash your hands frequently. Doing so can reduce the risk of spreading or contracting a virus.

  • Cover your mouth and nose

Use a tissue when sneezing or coughing. It can help stop the transmission of germs. If you do not have tissues, you can cover your mouth and nose with your arm.

  • Get plenty of sleep

Your immune system can fight off viruses better if you are well rested.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water       

If soap and water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. It can decrease the germs on your hands.

What are some simple ways you can treat a cold or influenza?

  • Rest

A common cold or the flu will usually go away in about seven to ten days. Taking time off from work or school will help your body fight off the illness without straining you further.

  • Use over-the-counter remedies

Many medications are available at local pharmacies. They can alleviate some common cold or flu symptoms, such as fevers, aches, and pains. However, consult your doctor before using any cold or flu treatment.

  • Increase your fluid intake

Staying hydrated can help ease some of your cold or flu symptoms. They may include a sore throat and runny nose.

  • Avoid using a humidifier

Humidifiers add moisture to the air. Eventually, they can increase your chances of getting a respiratory infection.