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Is It Flu, Strep or a Cold? Read On and Find Out!

Updated on September 4, 2016

I Feel Lousy!!!!! Is it just a cold or flu or strep?

When you get sick all you want to do is go home and get in bed. You may have a cold, cough, fever, sore throat or all of the above. It is important to find our what you are dealing with so you can protect those around you and get the proper care you need.

Studies have found that if you have a cough and no fever your likelihood of having a strep infection is greatly reduced. You may be battling the flu. If you start taking Tamiflu within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, aches, pain, cough, fever, it my speed up your recovery. Those around you may also need to take Tamiflu to prevent themselves from becoming infected.

Nursing babies have been found to get the antibodies from the
Tamiful through breast milk as well as the normal antibodies their mother has previously given them so they are at a lower risk of getting the flu.

We, as a society, have become very dependent on the flu vaccine which, unfortunately the virus has mutated leaving us at a high risk level for contracting the illness.

Anytime you have fever, cough , aches and pains you should suspect the flu and get tested.

Stomach upset is also often seen with the flu in the form of vomiting or diarrhea.

Complications can develop even with a cold such as ear infections, pneumonia, sinus infection, bronchitis. Most of these will need an antibiotic to get better although the flu and cold is caused by a virus and antibiotics will not help and may even do more harm than good.

Treatment often depends on your symptoms but in general you will need a humidifier to keep your mucous membranes moist. Sore throats will respond well to a warm salt water gargle. About 1/2 tsp salt in a small juice glass of warm water usually works well. Be sure to drink as much fluid as possible and chicken soup has been found to be an old wives tale that is actually true. The steam from the soup helps to clear your swollen head and the soup soothes a scratchy throat.

Sleep as much as you can. Over the counter products like tylenol and/or Advil can help with the aches and pain as well as guaifenesin to keep secretions liquid, decongestants, and sometimes antihistamines will help with sleep.

If you don't feel any better after several days and are running a high fever see a doctor. This is especially important if you have other medical conditions or are very young or elderly.

Get Sleep and Rest

Getting plenty of rest is one of the most important and basic steps to recovery.
Getting plenty of rest is one of the most important and basic steps to recovery. | Source

Knowing the difference and how to treat

Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Advil and Tamiflu can all help with symptoms
Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Advil and Tamiflu can all help with symptoms

When are You Contagious?

It is often difficult to know how and when you can give someone around you the flu. My husband and I are both strict hand washers and try to stay away from anyone that seems ill but we both contracted the flu this winter.

As we were approaching the holidays we had to make a decision as to when it would be safe to have our adult children visit us and celebrate.

Statistically you are the most contagious several days before symptoms appear and another 5 to 6 days into your illness. We waited a good 10 days before my son and his wife and children visited. I was still feeling congested and tired as was my husband but fevers were over.

Our little family contracted the flu within 48 hours of their visit. Ugg. Typically a virus is airborne and passed through a cough or sneeze. I can't help but wonder as we cooked and cleaned we somehow contaminated something they very quickly came in contact with.

All that being said they could have picked up the virus from many other places also but in retrospect we will probably delay our celebrating next year if someone becomes ill.

What is the Difference in Cold and Flu? How to treat?


Is it a Cold or Flu?

How do you know when to get tested for the flu? This can be a difficult question but a little information goes a long way.

With the flu you usually have a rapid onset with fever, chills, chest pain, body aches and pain, fatigue and headache. You may have these symptoms with a cold but more that likely a cold presents over several days with lots of sneezing, nose congestion, little fever and headache and no aches and pains.

In children and infants your thermometer may be your best friend on whether to seek medical attention.

Mortality of infants with the flu has been known to be high so you want to get a clear diagnosis as quickly as possible.


Tamiflu is an antiviral medication developed by Genetech, a division of Roche Pharmaceuticals. It is very effective in preventing the flu if someone has been exposed to the illness and has not had symptoms for more than 48 hours. The efficacy of treatment after the 48 hour window has not been determined.

Tamifu can be given to children as young as 2 weeks of age. It is not an inexpensive drug but you can receive a coupon online or through your pharmacist when requested.

You should strongly consider using Tamiflu for the very young, elderly or chronically ill person who is at greater risk of developing life threatening complications to the flu such as pneumonia.

Tamiflu has not only been shown to lessen likelihood of contracting the flu when exposed but also prevents superimposed bacterial complications from developing.

Tamiflu is expensive, up to $150 at some pharmacies, a coupon is available at the following website

Can I Get the Flu Twice?

You may be wondering if it is possible to get the flu twice in one season. You can get the flu twice if it is a different strain than a previous one you had. You can also get the same strain but not in the same season.

As previously stated you can help to prevent getting sick by frequent hand washing and avoiding those that are already ill. It may help to keep antibacterial hand cleaner in your purse or car.

Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of rest and exercise.

It is often impossible to know what illness you are dealing with and at those times it is best to see your physician.

How many readers are experiencing the flu?

Have you had the flu this year?

See results

Image of Strep Throat

Strep throat presenting with inflamed throat. Severe inflammation is present. Sometimes white pustules can be seen on the throat and tonsils.
Strep throat presenting with inflamed throat. Severe inflammation is present. Sometimes white pustules can be seen on the throat and tonsils. | Source

Strep Throat What Next

Strep Throat is a bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. It is seen primarily in children and up to 15% of adults.

Symptoms include raw,sore throat, fever and swollen lymph nodes. You may lose your appetite and have headache and chills. Treatment involves a course of antibiotics.

Besides antibiotics push fluids, get rest and gargle with warm salt water to ease the pain of your sore throat.

Sometimes but not as often as previously thought the tonsil are removed to prevent frequent attacks of Strep Throat or Tonsillitis.

Interestingly children under 2 do not usually contract a strep infection as they do not have the receptors for it.

© 2015 Nancy McClintock


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