Is it the flu or a common cold?

It’s not always easy to determine if you have a cold or the flu, but knowing the difference helps treatment work quicker at ending your symptoms.

It starts with a headache, then chills, followed by a runny nose and an annoying cough. Is this the onset of the dreaded flu or is it just a common cold? It’s easy to confuse them since both illnesses make you feel miserable and have common symptoms, but they’re not the same as they have vital differences.

Influenza and the common cold are both caused by a virus, and both can take over a week or two to leave your system. Both are contagious and easily spread. They can also cause similar symptoms, such as nasal congestion, coughing, headache, sore throat and fever.

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The first clue, however, to help differentiate the flu from a cold is revealed through taking your temperature. A common cold rarely has symptoms of fever above 101 degrees. With the flu, you will probably have a fever initially with the onset of the virus and you will feel miserable with body aches, chills and sweats and crushing fatigue as the most common symptoms.

Here are other clues of cold or flu symptoms:

Cold

• Fever: Sometimes, and usually mild;

• Headache: Occasional;

• Aches and pains: Slight;

• Fatigue and weakness: Sometimes;

• Extreme exhaustion: Never;

• Stuffy nose: Common;

• Sore Throat: Common;

• Chest discomfort and cough: Mild to moderate- hacking cough.

Flu

• Fever: Usual; higher (100-102 F); occasionally higher, especially in young children); lasts 3 to 4 days;

• Headache: Common;

• Aches and pain: Usual – often sever;

• Fatigue and weakness: Usual – can last two to three weeks;

• Extreme exhausted: Usual at the onset of illness;

• Stuffy nose: Sometimes;

• Sore throat: Sometimes;

• Chest discomfort and cough: Common- can become severe.

• Another clue is the flu is more common in the winter and early spring while cold • symptoms are felt throughout the year.

How to treat flu-like and cold symptoms

Get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids especially if you have flu-like symptoms, which may make you lose your appetite or make it hard to retain food. For the flu-like symptoms, look for alternative solution such as homeopathic medicine Oscillococcinum (”O-sill-o-cox-see-num”) to reduce the duration of flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, body aches and headache when taken at the onset.

For colds, look for other options including Coryzalia to relieve cold symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose and acute rhinitis. If your symptoms become significantly worse after the first three days of illness, especially if your fever subsides and then returns, be sure to see your doctor.

Keep in mind, these homeopathic medicines may not be right for everyone, always read and follow the label. More information and tips on how to relieve cold and flu symptoms are available at the “Homeopathic Medicine Finder” App at www.boiron.ca/app.

-NC