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The Difference Between a Cold and the Flu

Updated on February 02, 2017

Which is it?

Though they are similar, there is a difference between a cold and flu! OK, so you don't feel good. You have a sore throat, you are achy, stiff and feel like you are getting a fever. Knowing the difference between the common cold and the flu, will make the difference in both prevention and treatment.

You may have a persistent cough with no fever and no other symptoms. This may be anything from allergies to an ado-virus. Though the flu and a cold are similar, they are very different.

I believe many people have had the flu and thought it was a cold. How often have you been sick and three days later you felt much better and decided to go back to work? Do don't know what you had, but you were so glad whatever it was, it left!

How Colds Behave

The so-called common cold, is the most common infectious disease in existence, having more than 200 types of viral associations, such as respiratory and nasal viruses.

Cold symptoms are progressive, starting with sneezing, difficulty breathing and a runny nose. This will continue until the whole head is congested. It then moves down to the throat, causing inflammation and soreness.

Other symptoms of a cold can be stiff muscles, loss of appetite coughing and headaches. People who suffer with allergies may experience longer symptoms. Cold symptoms will appear from one day to one week after becoming exposed to a cold virus.

While babies and younger children tend to have fevers up to 102 degrees with the cold, older children an adults ten to have colds without fever. A child can have 5 or more colds each years while adult 2 to 3 a year.

A Cold vs the Flu


No Cure for a Cold

There is no cure for a cold. It has to run its course. It is caused by various viruses which mutate too quickly in the human body to find a suitable remedy. Since there is not cure for the cold, it is best to try to prevent becoming infected.

How do you do this when living around so may people? Be aware, one of the main ways of transmission of this virus is the air. When someone sneezes or coughs, the germs travel and lands on surfaces. If you touch that surface, say a doorknob, keyboard, remote control, and then touch your nose, face or eyes, the virus is then passed to a new host.

One of the best preventions is avoiding someone who is sick and washing your hand frequently. Thankfully today there are many hand sanitizer on the market. Make sure you always have a bottle of sanitizer with you, if you can't wash your hands immediately. Also, when at home periodically disinfect surfaces and door knobs regularly. Antibacterial soap containing triclosan is also very helpful.

Cold and Flu

The onset of Flu symptoms are more sudden and more violent, being caused by the influenza virus.

Every year thousands of people die each year from the flu and complications such as pneumonia. The flu can be extremely dangerous for the elderly, babies, those with auto-immune or respiratory disease.

Flu symptoms most always include low to high grade fevers. Children who get the flu tend to have those higher grade fevers. Chills, so hard your teeth chatter, headaches, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, body aches and pain, are also classic signs of the flu.

Symptoms appear with a few days of coming in contact with the flu virus, usually through someone sneezing around you or hand to face contact with an item touched by someone who is already infected. The flu can spread so quickly because its incubation period is very short. It can last from a few day to a week or longer. Often the experience of weakness may last long after the flu is gone.

Do you Think a Flu Shot Helps Prevent the Flu

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Getting Better

Whether you have a cold or the flu, it is important to keep hydrated. You can lesson the severity of a cold by getting lots of rest and increasing fluids. There are now homeopathic cold remedies that really help.

The flu can be stopped or shortened when treated upon immediate onset by homeopathic and anti-viral medications. A yearly flu shot is especially advised, if you fall into the risk category.


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    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      Well done hub. I just got over the flu. I should have found your hub a few weeks ago. Thanks for an interesting and informative read. Voted up and useful.

    • yenajeon profile image

      yenajeon 6 years ago from California

      Thanks this was useful!! I'm never sure if I have the cold or the flu. I definitely think I'm starting to get a cold. =( Rated up.

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