Cold and Flu Treatment in Bradenton Florida

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What’s the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu?

When it’s cold season, sometimes it can be hard to tell what illness you actually have. Is it the cold, the flu, seasonal allergies, or something else? There are so many symptoms that overlap between the two viruses that sometimes it can be hard to tell.

A common cold and the flu are both considered respiratory illnesses. However, they are caused by two different viruses. Because the symptoms can be so similar, it’s important to get your cold or flu checked out by a doctor. Colds will normally go away on their own, but the flu can have serious complications if left untreated.

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What Causes Cold and Flu?

The common cold can be caused by many different types of viruses, but rhinovirus is the most common virus associated with the common cold. The viruses associated with common cold can enter your system through your mouth, eyes, or nose.

These viruses are incredibly contagious, so washing your hands and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow are two good ways to avoid getting or spreading the cold. For example, if you shake hands with someone who has a cold and then touch your face, you could get the cold or transfer it to someone else.

The flu is caused by the influenza virus and is spread in similar ways. This virus infects the nose, throat, and lungs and is spread in a similar way to the common cold. With the flu, you can spread the virus before you even know that you’re sick. It is important to have any signs of the flu checked out by a doctor.

Risk Factors for Cold and Flu

The common cold is often not as serious as the flu can be, but there are a few things to take into account if you think you have a cold. Children under the age of six are at a greater risk for colds, especially if they spend time in a child care facility. Those who are exposed to cigarette smoke, or those who smoke themselves, are also more likely to catch a cold or have a more intense cold.

The flu carries a lot of different risk factors. Children under 12 months of age and adults 65 years and older are more prone to getting the flu, as well as those with weakened immune systems and chronic illnesses. Pregnant women are more likely to develop complications alongside their flu symptoms, and those with a body mass index of 40 or more can also have an increased risk of complications.

Should I get the flu vaccine?

People always seem to ask if they really need to the flu vaccine. The answer is yes.

The CDC recommends that everyone who is 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine before every flu season. And, despite rumor and myth, one cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. Flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness because they are either made with a flu viruses that has been inactivated or killed and is therefore not infectious, or by using only a single gene from a flu virus instead of the full virus which produces an immune response without causing infection. Because the flu shot contains either a dead flu virus or only a part of the flu virus, it cannot cause infection in a recipient.

Some flu vaccines, however, are not recommended for certain people with health conditions, though this is uncommon. For example, children and adults with asthma aged 5 years and older, people with other underlying medical conditions like certain diseases, and people with an acute illness with or without fever should not get the flu vaccine.

Discuss getting the flu vaccine directly with your healthcare provider.

How do I Know if I Have a Cold or the Flu?

The symptoms for a cold and the flu can be very similar, but there are some key differences.

Symptoms of a cold include:

  • congestion,
  • sinus pressure,
  • runny nose,
  • stuffy nose,
  • loss of smell or taste,
  • sneezing,
  • watery eyes,
  • sore throat,
  • cough,
  • low-grade fever,
  • and more.

One things that is generally true about the difference between cold and flu symptoms is that flu symptoms are usually worse, or more intense.

Flu symptoms include:

  • fever
  • cough,
  • sore throat
  • runny nose,
  • stuffy nose
  • body aches
  • headaches
  • headaches
  • and potential vomiting

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between cold and flu symptoms.

While these two do share a lot of symptoms, it’s important to note that the flu carries things like a higher fever and chills as well as more intense body aches. However, people with the flu often do not sneeze as much as those who have a cold.

How are Cold and Flu Diagnosed?

The cold can be diagnosed based on a conversation with your doctor, going over your symptoms, checking your vitals, and examining the signs. If your doctor suspects that you might have more than an average cold, they may order more tests.

After talking about your symptoms with your doctor, the flu can be tested with a swab of the inside of your nose or the back of your throat. This swab is then tested for the flu virus. Results can be expected anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours depending on the test used.

How are Cold and Flu Treated?

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics don’t treat the cold but they may be prescribed if you also have a bacterial infection. Although the cold cannot be cured, the symptoms can be treated with pain relievers, nasal sprays, cough syrups, and other medicines. It’s also recommended that you drink lots of fluids and get lots of rest.

The flu can be treated with antiviral medications like oseltamivir (Tamiflu), zanamivir (Relenza), peramivir (Rapivab), and baloxavir (Xofluza). These prescription drugs can shorten your illness and get you feeling better within a day or two.

Similar to treating the cold, those with the flu should also get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids.

What Can be Expected in the Long Term?

There aren’t many complications from the cold, but those with asthma can experience worsening attacks from colds. The cold can also be present alongside other infections, like strep throat.

The flu however, does have some complications associated with it. The most common complications with the flu are bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, ear infections, and sinus infections. If you have other medical conditions, like heart failure or asthma, the flu can create complications. When the flu virus enters your lungs or if you also get a bacterial infection along with your flu, pneumonia is a real possibility. Pneumonia causes chills, high fever, chest pains, and sweating and can be very serious.

How Can Cold and Flu be Prevented?

There are a lot of healthy habits that can help prevent colds and flu. Preventing the cold and flu is the best way to avoid missing time with you friends and family and avoiding taking time of work.

Avoiding close contact with other people is important when you know that the cold or flu viruses are going around your community. If you are already sick, you should avoid contact with others to keep them from getting infected.

When sneezing or coughing, covering your mouth and nose and sneezing into your arm can also prevent the spread of these viruses.

Get into the habit of washing your hands and using hand sanitizer to protect you from these germs and to keep you and your family safe and healthy.

Where Can I Get Treatment for my Cold or Flu?

If you’re looking for a low cost local clinic to help diagnose and treat your cold or flu, Manasota Minor Care Clinic is here for you. We offer affordable cold and flu care, as well as little to no waiting time. Also, our staff is fluent in Spanish.Compassion and care are our number one priorities. Call us today so we can help you get the treatment you need to get back on your feet. Contact us online or at 941-756-1253.