How to Recognize the Difference Between the Cold and the Flu (Influenza)

Two Methods:Recognizing the Common ColdRecognizing the Flu (Influenza)

Being sick is never fun. Staying in bed with a stick under your tongue is one of the least fun ways to spend your day. But if you know how to tell the difference between the cold and the flu, it is easy to get the right medications and recover.

Method 1
Recognizing the Common Cold

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    Confirm your symptoms. Make sure that you're sure of them. If you've been in sneezing fits and suddenly have a headache, it might be caused by something that you ate. To confirm your symptoms, make sure you've had them for awhile, and they will most likely won't go away soon.
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    Look for symptoms of a cold. If your symptoms match the symptoms below, then you probably have a cold. But if you haven't already, it would be recommended to see your doctor to make sure you don't have allergies, a sinus infection, or even asthma.
    • runny or stuffy nose
    • sore throat
    • mild tiredness
    • headache or body ache
    • cough
    • slight fever (note that fevers usually take place in children)
    • sneezing
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    Treat the cold. Make sure that you stay home the first three days, because it's usually contagious during that range. Antibiotics don't work for the cold, but medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines may be useful.
    • Colds clear up within a few days, but fluids can help quicken the process. You should see your doctor if it isn't over in a week.
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    Take steps to prevent the cold. There is no vaccine, which is bad news. Avoid anyone with the cold (because it spreads so easily). You should also stay clean; try washing your hands and showering for instance.

Method 2
Recognizing the Flu (Influenza)

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    Confirm your symptoms. Make sure that they're attached to your illness, not separate. Also, note that the flu can cause other serious illnesses, such as pneumonia. The symptoms are also related to those of the common cold, but usually more severe.
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    Check your symptoms with the symptoms below:
    • profound fatigue
    • stuffy and runny nose
    • headaches, muscle or body aches
    • sore throat
    • fever or chills (though the fever isn't required)
    • dry, hacking cough
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    Use fluids and rest to treat the flu. Decongestants may help, too.
    • Never give aspirin to children, as it can cause a serious condition called Reye's syndrome.
    • It is also important to see a doctor if your symptoms become severe or don't heal.
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    Get a vaccination from the flu to prevent it. But it is also important to wash your hands often.

Article Info

Categories: Colds and Viruses