Cold and the Flu Compared
If you only have a common cold, there is typically no reason at all to go running to the doctor and taking time away from other patients because the only thing that a doctor will basically tell you is to rest and drink plenty of fluids.
Warning Signs of a Cold
Although your respiratory tract is targeted by both viruses, there are a few easy ways to tell the difference between the two. The cold usually offers you a warning sign that you may or may not pay attention to. There is a good chance that you will start feeling a bit run down one to two days prior. You could feel yourself a little more tired than usual and nearly everyone experiences a scratch or sore throat.
Then, within a couple days, your nose starts running and you begin sneezing and you probably experience chest congestion but that is usually the end of it. After this, your symptoms begin to ease up and leave you with a cough for a bit longer but overall, symptoms are fairly mild compared to the flu.
The presence of a fever is about the biggest difference between the cold and the flu. Colds rarely provide adults with a fever however, it is not uncommon for children to get them which makes diagnosis tricky for a parent. A high fever isn’t the only sign of the flu though, a sore throat similar to the cold is almost always present except it usually comes on pretty sudden. Additional symptoms include muscle aches, congestion, cough and headache.
When you have the flu, you generally don’t know until it hits you hard. There aren’t 24 to 48 hours of warning signs like you have with a cold so you can start preparing your body be eating and drinking things that will boost your immune system.
Do You Need a Doctor?
You aren’t always required to go see a doctor at the first sign of a sniffle or a fever. In fact, health care professionals in Australia are recommending to stay out of medical care facilities unless your symptoms are serious because they have been just overwhelmed since the swine flu emerged onto the scene.
However, if you do experience severe or persistent congestion, coughing, fever, headache, confusion, shortness of breath, vomiting or dizziness, you need a doctor and in some cases, you may even need to seek emergency treatment. If symptoms are left to progress for too long, pneumonia will often develop.
Additionally, the cold and the flu have the potential to be incredibly dangerous in children. If they appear as though they may be dehydrated or if they are experiencing a high fever, bluish skin or rapid breathing, they need to go to an emergency room immediately.