Know the difference between cold and flu viruses

Cold and flu season is just around the corner. Both cold and flu viruses are respiratory in nature and share some common symptoms (sore throat, runny nose, and coughing), which is why people often get the two confused.

Flu is caused by the influenza A, B or C virus, while colds are caused by many different rhinoviruses.

Cold viruses come on gradually and often start as a sore throat, with a runny nose and cough to follow. A slight fever is possible and symptoms typically last about one week. Antibiotics are ineffective against treating the common cold. Other-the-counter products to treat symptoms and bed rest are the best course of treatment. Colds can lead to sinus and ear infections, so it’s best to consult medical help if symptoms do not get better after one week.

Flu symptoms come on very suddenly and are more severe – fever, fatigue, body aches, sore throat, congestion and cough. Treating the flu within the first 48 hours with antiviral drugs can lessen the time and severity of symptoms. Flu can lead to other medical conditions such as pneumonia and can even cause death.

Flu vaccines are recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months to prevent getting the flu in the first place. Getting the flu vaccine does not guarantee you won’t get the flu, but your symptoms may not be as severe.

Preventing the spread of cold and flu viruses begins with frequent hand washing with soap and warm water. Also, sneeze into your arm or elbow. Frequent cleaning of common household surfaces such as door knobs and handles, TV remotes, computer keyboard/mouse, telephones, sinks, toilets, etc. is a must since viruses can live anywhere from two to 72 hours on surfaces.

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