Fall and winter is typically when the cold and flu season is, but these are not the same illnesses. They are often confused because they sometimes start in the same way, but even down to the symptoms, they can be quite different. Take a look at these similarities and differences between cold and flu symptoms.
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Cold Symptoms
Many times, you know you feel ill but are not sure if you have the cold or the flu. The reason this is an important distinction is because they are treated somewhat differently, and while the cold is something you can handle at home, many cases of the flu require seeing a doctor. With a cold, the symptoms tend to be less severe, and often include congestion, a runny nose, cough, and sore throat. You might have a slight fever, but it is often not too severe. You may notice these symptoms for a few days or up to a week. The cold usually lasts fewer days than the flu.
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Flu Symptoms
With the flu, expect to experience your symptoms for a longer period of time, and often more severely. It may start similar to a cold, with a sore throat, cough, and congestion. However, the flu often leads to bad headaches, a high fever, worse cough, and muscle aches and pains. You may also notice that as the flu progresses, you start experiencing severe fatigue, to where you can barely get out of bed and move around. Some people with the flu may also experience diarrhea and vomiting. Since you are at risk for dehydration with the flu, you should see a doctor for proper treatment.
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Treating the Cold VS the Flu
If you think you have the cold or flu, you might want to see a doctor in either case. With a common head cold that doesn’t get better in a few days, it is good to see a doctor and find out if it might be a sinus infection, flu, or other illness. Treating a head cold often includes getting plenty of fluids, rest, and treating your various symptoms. With the flu, your doctor might prescribe antibiotics or other medications, and hospitalization may be required in more severe cases.
If you have either the cold or flu wit vomiting and/or diarrhea, see a doctor. This can increase your risk of dehydration, so if you can’t even keep fluids down, you might need medical treatment.