Do I Have a Cold or Flu?
People get sick every year, both young and old. The question that usually comes to mind when they start sneezing, coughing or having general aches is “Do I have a cold, or is it flu?”
The common cold and the flu are both respiratory illnesses. Many different viruses cause colds, while a smaller number cause the flu. These two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, and it can be very difficult to differentiate between the two.
We generally distinguish between a cold and flu as follows:
- A cold is a mild respiratory illness. It usually starts with a sore throat that generally improves within a day or two. The sore throat is followed by nasal symptoms—such as a runny nose with nasal congestion—then a mild to a moderate cough may develop. Fever and headaches are quite rare in adults, but a slight fever is possible.
- Flu symptoms can include a fever of over 38° Kids with influenza have a tendency to experience higher fevers than adults have—frequently as high as 39–40°C. The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, nasal symptoms, body aches, headaches and a feeling of fatigue. Flu can make you feel quite ill for a few days to weeks.
Cold Vs Flu
|Fever||rare||high, for 3–4 days|
|General aches & pains||slight||usual, often severe|
|Fatigue, weariness||mild||intense, 2–3 weeks|
|Extreme exhaustion||never||usual (starts early)|
|Cough||mild to moderate||common, can be severe|
While colds can make you feel uneasy, they aren’t usually serious; you’ll get over a cold in a few days. The flu, however, is a different matter.
Flu is much worse than you might imagine. It can lead to serious health problems such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, and hospitalization. As of August 25, 2018, a total of 180 pediatric deaths had been reported to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) during the flu 2017-2018 season. This number exceeds the previous highest number of flu-associated deaths in children reported during a regular flu season (171 during the 2012-2013 season).
Yes, there are ways we can prevent this.
- The most important measure for preventing colds and flu is maintaining good hygiene, such as frequent hand washing. Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community. Hand washing by rubbing hands with soapy water for 20 seconds helps to remove germs from your skin.
- Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season, especially those people at high risk. People at high risk of developing Flu-related complications include children younger than five (but especially children younger than two years old); adults 65 years of age and older; and pregnant women. Anybody with a coronary illness or asthma should also visit a specialist who can give you influenza antiviral medications. The best way to prevent seasonal influenza is to get vaccinated every year.
- The best time to be vaccinated is September or October. This allows your body time to develop antibodies to the flu virus before peak flu season.
Where to get the flu vaccination: Family Medical Practice provides imported vaccines that are safe and stored to international standards. Contact the nearest FMP clinic to get your flu vaccination to protect yourself and those around you!
Doctor Christopher M. Suazon
General Practitioner, Danang Family Medical Practice Director
Danang-based Medical Director, Dr Chris, has worked in general practice for 17 years—almost a decade of those with Family Medical Practice. A self-professed all-rounder, he describes his job as being on the front line of patient service, taking crucial responsibility for primary health before patients move on to relevant specialists as required. The diversity of knowledge that comes with his varied experience is a key strength.
A graduate of the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Dr. Chris speaks English, Filipino and the Kapampangan dialect. Outside of medicine, he is a passionate basketballer and keen movie buff who also relishes the chance to spend quiet time with his family whenever possible.