Colds & Flu

Colds & Flu

Colds and the flu are illnesses that are caused by viruses.  Colds can be caused by many different viruses which is part of the reason why they are so common.  Flu is also caused by a virus. The flu virus mutates quickly which is why it’s recommended to get a flu shot every year. Each year, scientist evaluate last years flu virus and try to predict how it will mutate so that they can develop next years shot.

Colds and the flu can have very similar symptoms. Both can cause a sore throat, runny nose and cough, however, the flu is much more severe.

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Cold Symptoms

Cold symptoms usually last about a week.  For the first 3 days or so you are contagious and can spread the cold virus to others, so washing your hands frequently and using tissues while sneezing or coughing can help reduce the chance of you passing the virus on.  A cold usually starts with a sore throat which usually goes away after the second day.  Nasal symptoms and congestion usually follow, along with a cough.  Fever is not common in adults with colds, however, children are more likely to run a fever with a cold. It is easy to confuse a cold with allergies or a sinus infection.  If your symptoms begin quickly and are improving after a week, chances are that you have a cold, but if your symptoms continue, schedule an appointment with your doctor to see if you may have developed an allergy.

Flu Symptoms

Flu symptoms are very similar to cold symptoms but they can be more severe.  They can come on quickly and include a sore throat, congestion, and cough just like a cold, but are usually combined with fever, headache, and muscle aches. Some strains of flu, such as swine flu can also cause vomiting and diarrhea.  Flu symptoms gradually get better over a period of two – five days, but feeling run down for another week or more is not uncommon.

There are several things you can do to reduce your chance of getting a cold or the flu.

  • Get an annual flu shot
  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold or flu
  • Disinfect door handles, phones and any other items other people touch on a regular basis.

When to call the doctor.

If you have a cold or the flu it’s important to call your doctor if have any of these severe symptoms

  • Persistent fever that lasts 3 days or more.
  • Painful Swallowing
  • Persistent coughing
  • Persistent congestions and headaches.

If you think you or a loved one may have the flu, schedule an appointment with Dr. Gautam today.