Do you have the cold or flu?

So, you are feeling under the weather and it's cold/flu season. Chances are you either have the cold or the flu but how do you tell what you have? What's the difference between a cold and flu? And how do you prevent this from happening again?

If you have a cold be very careful the first few days. This is when your cold is most contagious to other around you. Be sure to stay home and get the rest your body needs to fight it off.

Cold Symptoms

First Few Days

  • Sore Throat: Most likely you notice a sore throat first. This is common place with having a cold. Typically this will go away after a day or two.
  • Runny nose: This is a typical symptom for the cold. Usually starts with a light watery mucus for the first few days and after will become darker and thicker. And then this will turn into...
  • Congestion: This symptom will stay till the end of your cold.

4-5 Days

  • Cough: When it develops, it can be from mild to moderate. It can develop into a hacking cough.
  • Fever: Some adults may develop a mild fever when they have a cold though it is not nesessary. These fevers rarely get higher than 101 degrees. Fevers are more common for kids with colds.

Generally speaking, most colds last around a week and while you feel bad, you can still function. If your cold symptoms are lasting longer than a week, chances are you could have some sort of bacterial infection, which would mean you might need antibiotics. Visit your doctor to see if you might have contracted anything more serious.

Flu Symptoms

First Few Days

  • Sore Throat
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Headache: This is more common with a flu. It can be moderate to severe.
  • Muscle aches and soreness:This is the best way to know if you have a flu vs the cold. Muscle aches will most likely be severe and will make you feel very weak.
  • Vomiting & diarrhea: expected with swine flu not the common flu. If you are having these symptoms, consult your doctor as soon as possible.

The flu can turn into pneumonia, especially among the young and elderly. Shortness of breath is a sign that you could have pneumonia. Another sign is a fever that comes back after having been gone a day or two. If you see any of these signs consult with your doctor.

Both the flu and the cold have many of the same symptoms, but the best way to discern whether or not you have the flu is if you have a high fever early on. Muscle aches and exhaustion early on are also tale-tell signs that you have the flu.

What's the best way to make sure you don't get either of these illnesses? Make sure you wash your hands with soap and water every day for at least 20 seconds multiple times a day.