Many people suffer from a sore throat, nasal congestion and difficulty in breathing, sometimes also accompanied with a mild or high fever. These symptoms are so common that most people tend to ignore them and hope to get better by themselves in a few days time.
While these people are not entirely wrong, the situation may become worse if not treated properly after a correct diagnosis by a medical professional. In some cases especially among children and pregnant women, any symptom related to the respiratory tract must be looked upon by a doctor.
COLD AND COUGH
Common cold is experienced by millions of people especially if exposed to a colder environment without proper insulation for protection of the sensitive parts of the body like the feet or the neck. Young children are at a greater risk of being affected by a common cold.
Symptoms of a common cold may be a runny nose, nasal congestion, cough, sore throat, headache, fever and frequent sneezing. There are a number of viruses that can cause these symptoms among people but the most common is the rhinovirus.
Children, old aged people and others with another chronic illness or a weaker immunity system may generally be at a higher risk of catching a cold. In children, sometimes an ear infection or pain may also accompany the other symptoms.
In case of people already suffering from a respiratory disease or a complication in the lungs like asthma or bronchitis may have added complications or experience triggered symptoms of the existing disease when suffering from cold.
Just like the common cold, influenza, also called flu may show similar symptoms. People may develop nasal congestion, runny nose, difficulty in breathing, sore throat, fever and weakness.
Even though there is a similarity in the symptoms, the flu and the common cold are entirely different. While there are a number of reasons to catch a cold, the trouble causing virus in case of the flu is either type A or type B influenza virus. This virus is mutating and is often found with new strains.
The influenza virus travels in the air and can even enter the body through physical contact with infected surfaces. People with a weaker immunity, children under the age of 5 and old people above the age of 65 have a higher risk of catching this virus.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A COMMON COLD AND A FLU
Apart from some common symptoms, here are some others that could make it easier to differentiate between a common cold and a flu:
1. In the case of the common cold, one may experience a fever but in the case of flu, a fever may often be accompanied by chills or sweating.
2. A person may experience weakness in general in both the cases but in case of a flu, the thought of going about your day may seem impossible at times, due to extreme weakness and fatigue.
3. In case a child is affected by the flu, he or she may also experience vomiting or diarrhoea in addition to the other symptoms like sore throat and nasal congestion, something which is highly unlikely to take place if it is just a cold.
4. In the case of flu, which is extremely dangerous sometimes, especially for children, the symptoms may worsen over the span of a few days or weeks and also lead to pneumonia and may become a fatal condition in extreme cases.
WHEN TO CALL A DOCTOR
If you or anyone you know is experiencing any symptoms that may indicate a bacterial or viral infection of a cold or flu, seeking medical advice is often the best case scenario to ensure a healthy future and to help prevent worsening of the situation.
If one experiences any of the following symptoms along with the common ones, it is best to consult with a doctor:
1. Shortness of breath apart from the basic difficulty in breathing and nasal congestion.
2. Wheezing may indicate an allergic reaction that may need medical care and anti allergics to help with the situation.
3. If fever lasts for more than five days, or returns after a span of five days, it may indicate another infection that may have affected the person while dealing with cold/ flu. In case one suffers from a fever higher than 101.3 F, a professional consultation is your best bet.
4. If a person has high fever, it may also lead to seizures and that needs to be treated with utmost care and professional treatment.
5. If a person suffers chest pain, it may be a sign of other infections or extreme congestion in the nasal tract.
6. Worsening of other medical conditions like blood pressure, migraines or asthma may need extra treatment from a medical professional.
Experiencing common cold symptoms is very common and generally not something to worry about. One should make sure to wash their hands, disinfect their surroundings and keep their bodies covered during colder times to avoid getting any infections.
Flu on the other hand is a dangerous condition, which may lead to other complications in some cases, or simply extreme weakness and the inability to go about your normal life. Consulting a doctor is very important in case one experiences any major symptoms.
A doctor may prescribe analgesics to control the fever and antihistamines to control the nasal blockage in severe conditions. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed after a correct diagnosis by a medical professional.