KaChoo! Is it a Cold or the Flu?
You know the feeling. It starts with a slight tickle in your throat, or the feeling that something isn’t quite right. Then…boom! You’re sick.
But how do you know if you have a common cold or the full-blown flu? The flu typically comes on fast, while a cold can start slowly and gradually become worse. The symptoms of each condition are different, too.
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Itchy throat
- Mild cough
A cold typically lasts about three days, but congestion may continue a week or more. Sometimes complications develop which can lead to sinus infections, bronchitis, ear infections or asthma attacks.
- High fever
- Extreme muscle aching over your entire body
- Major fatigue
- Sore throat
- Nasal discharge
- Cough and chest congestion
- Vomiting and diarrhea (in children)
Flu symptoms can last one to two weeks. Flu complications can lead to pneumonia, dehydration, inflammation of the heart/brain/muscle tissues, sepsis or even death.
Whether you have the cold or flu, these illnesses can wipe you out, zap your strength and potentially lead to other medical problems. It is estimated that between 5% – 20% of people in the United States get the flu every year. Flu season starts in the fall and really gains strength in January and February. But this pesky virus can continue wreaking havoc well into the spring months.
How Flu Germs Spread
The flu is spread when flu germ droplets land on you via coughs, sneezes or by touching a surface that is laced with the virus. These germ droplets can lurk anywhere: on shopping cart handles, school desks, phones, books, door handles, etc. The flu virus can live on hard surfaces up to 24 hours! To minimize your risk of getting the flu, keep your distance from people who are sick, frequently wash your hands and avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
A Flu Vaccine is Your Best Defense
Seasonal flu vaccines work by causing antibodies to grow in the body two weeks after vaccination. For the 2019-2020 flu season, there are different vaccines that are licensed for different age groups and those with specific medical conditions. The type of protection included in each year’s vaccination is different to keep up with the changing flu viruses. The doctors at Westgate Family Physicians is currently offering flu shots in Spartanburg, SC, and will have flu clinics throughout the flu season to make vaccination convenient. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (864) 574-0070 or click here.