How Do I Know If I Have a Cold or The Flu?
Let’s face it – nobody likes being sick do they?
We’ve all been there before – it starts with a sore throat, or maybe a runny nose, which can quickly lead to coughing and sneezing, and body aches and pains….
Both colds and flu are caused by viruses which attack our bodies. The main difference is which virus causes the infection.
The only real way to determine if it’s a cold or a flu, is to simply visit your doctor and they can do a swab test to identify the strain of virus.
Generally speaking, however, the flu (caused by an Influenza virus) will hit you hard and fast – you’ll most probably experience symptoms such as a sore throat, headaches and body aches as well as coughs.
Most people will report having a fever and can get over a flu in about 5-7 days, but symptoms of fatigue may last for weeks (especially in seniors or people who have compromised immune systems).
It’s important to see your doctor if symptoms last for more than 10 days, as complications such as pneumonia can arise from the flu. In really bad cases, the flu has also been known to cause deaths.
The flu can be treated easily with antiviral medications if you catch it early (in the first 48 hours).
Colds on the other hand (can be caused by over 100 different viruses, but it’s more commonly due to a rhinovirus), are often less severe in intensity – and can start with a sore throat and progress onto include a runny or stuffy nose. Usually symptoms come on slower and you’ll be over it in about 7-10 days.
Over the counter medications such as nasal decongestants, cough suppressants, painkillers such as aspirin and paracetamol can help reduce the symptoms associated with a cold.
So, what can you do to help prevent catching a cold or flu?
It’s also important to make sure that you
- keep your hands clean (wash them thoroughly with soap and water if you come into contact with someone who might be displaying cold or flu symptoms)
- keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth if they haven’t been freshly washed
- get plenty of rest to make sure that your body is able to recuperate and fight against disease
- dress appropriately for the weather (eg. carry an umbrella or jacket as the weather fluctuates).
I’m Sick! What should I do?
If you are sick, stay home so that you don’t heighten the risk of infecting others.
If you have to go to work, then be mindful of others – as the virus is spread through the air, sneezing or coughing can quickly spread the disease.
If you have to sneeze or cough, do it into the crook of your arm rather than in your hands, so that you’re not spreading it around more as you touch things around you.
Rest and hydration are crucial to recovery – make sure that you get lots of sleep and keep up with fluids such as tea, water and/or chicken soup (homemade is the best!).
Make sure that you’re eating well to make sure that you’re nourishing your body to fight the infection – check out our article on the The Super 7 Foods To Boost Your Immune System for some tips on what can help.
It’s also important to note that if you are feeling a bit under the weather, that a massage can sometimes make you feel worse as it can help expedite symptoms as it flushes the disease through your lymphatic system – we suggest that if you are sick, or starting to feel sick, that you postpone your massage and come in when you’re feeling better.
Please note: this information is information only and does not constitute as not medical advice – if you are unwell, please visit your local GP or medical professional.