One of the most common questions asked during flu season: Do I have the flu or is it just a cold? In this article we’ll help you understand what’s the difference…
Flu season is upon us. This is the time of year when it’s common to see people coughing and sneezing and coming down with one of the most common respiratory illnesses known to man. We often hear the terms ‘flu’ and ‘cold’ interchanged as if they were referring to the same thing, but they’re not. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu. In this article we’ll dive a little deeper into what makes the two different yet so similar.
A cold and a flu are both respiratory infections. These infections share many symptoms which often makes it hard to tell the difference between the two. They do however have some differences that can help you recognize which is which. Flus are generally more severe and hold the potential for developing into even more serious health issues like pneumonia, bacterial infection or even hospitalization. It’s also possible to get a common cold anytime during the year while flus are more likely to get contracted during flu season (November – March).
So what is the big difference between the two? At the end of the day, it comes down to the symptoms and how quickly they present themselves. In both a flu and cold, you’re likely to experience coughing, sneezing, sore throat and runny nose (although these aren’t as likely in flus). Symptoms you’ll find with a flu that you won’t with a cold: headaches, muscle or body aches, fatigue, fever, nausea, vomiting, chills and sweats.
Cold symptoms usually develop over a few days while flu symptoms come on much quicker, over a few hours. Colds usually dissipate in 7 to 10 days, although symptoms can last for up to 2 weeks, while the flu is likely to last 1 to 2 weeks.
Flus are a bit more dangerous than cold because they come on quite suddenly and can result in more severe health issues. Even though most people recover from the flu in a couple weeks, some people don’t and develop serious illness like pneumonia (which can be life threatening) instead. Some people develop sinus and ear infections or bacterial infections that could land them a visit to the hospital. Other possible serious complications triggered by flu can include inflammation of the heart (myocarditis), brain (encephalitis) or muscle (myositis, rhabdomyolysis) tissues, and multi-organ failure (for example, respiratory and kidney failure). Flu virus infection of the respiratory tract can trigger an extreme inflammatory response in the body and can lead to sepsis, the body’s life-threatening response to infection. Flu also can make chronic medical problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have flu, and people with chronic heart disease may experience a worsening of this condition triggered by the flu. (cdc.gov)
Because it can become so severe, it is recommended to get a flu vaccine each year. There are many different flu viruses and they are constantly changing. The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated as needed to match circulating flu viruses identified by the CDC. At Walker’s Drug Store, we administer the quadrivalent vaccine which is covered by most insurance. The Quadrivalent (four-component) vaccines are recommended to contain A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated), A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus (updated), B/Colorado/06/2017-like (Victoria lineage) virus plus B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (Yamagata lineage) virus. These four vaccines are intended to attack the four types of Influenza (Orthomyxoviridae) virus that exist – A and B, which are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics in people; C, which is relatively rare, causes a mild respiratory illness, and is not thought to cause epidemics; and D, which primarily infects cattle and isn’t known to affect people. (history.com). Our pharmacy offers vaccinations to people 14 years of age and older, from September until spring of the new year (2020). For pediatric patients, 13 or younger, we will have a nurse come in at specially scheduled times to cater to them, so don’t forget to ask us about this service. We also have a high dose for seniors, 65+.
This flu season, take the necessary precautions to ensure you don’t get sick. Visit our pharmacy to get your flu shot and make sure to stock up on those over-the-counter flu medicines. An annual vaccine is the best prevention for the flu virus, and we believe that prevention is always better than a cure. Call us or come into our store to learn more about our vaccination service and when the nurse will be available to vaccinate our 13-and-younger patients. Walker’s Drug store, over 100 years of caring for our community.