When you wake up in the morning feeling sore, sneezing, coughing, feeling feverish, back pain, having an aching body, have you wondered whether it is just a cold, flu or something more? Well, let’s look at the symptoms and how to tell the differences between them.
A common cold starts with a sore throat. Children may run a fever. The nose turns runny and the initially watery secretions turn thick and darker in color. By the fourth or fifth day cough joins the melee. These symptoms are common to both the cold and the flu. The difference is that you have a bacterial infection and your body is doing a good job.
Colds generally last for about a week. You are contagious in the first three days and can pass on the symptoms to others. So stay confined and rest. If the cold doesn’t get better then you should investigate the matter and may need antibiotics to fight the Flu infection.
The common cold could be easily mistaken for allergic rhinitis or sinus infections. The doctor can differentiate between the severities of the symptoms and will treat accordingly. Recommended tests are CBC blood test, FBS Test, and a urine test with uric acid test. Check with an online doctor if you need a second opinion.
If you have the Flu the symptoms of the cold are severe and come on very quickly. The swine flu has additional symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting. Pneumonia is accompanied with difficulty in breathing and recurrence of fever after a short break of a few days. Typhoid with very high constant fever can be ruled out with a typhoid test.
A main differentiator between the two is that in adults the common cold rarely has a high fever. The Flu is almost always accompanied by high fever. Seasonal influenza, pollen, and dust allergies also cause similar symptoms.
Red flags described below are when you need to see a doctor immediately.
- Fever is persistent for more than 3 days indicates a bacterial infection that needs treatment.
- Swallowing is painful and uncomfortable indicates Strep Throat which needs treatment. Tonsillitis can also show the same symptoms.
- A cough is persistent for over 3 weeks could mean bronchitis and needs treatment immediately. Asthma, sinusitis and post nasal drip infections need to be investigated.
- Chest congestion is persistent and accompanied by headaches indicates sinusitis especially when the nasal passages are blocked and you have pain and redness around the eyes, cheeks, and face. While most sinus infections do not need antibiotics the underlying cause is to be treated.
- Absolutely serious red flags are when you have severe chest pain, severe headaches, acute breathing problems, dizziness, confusion, vomiting or diarrhea.
- In baby care, additional signs of an emergency are rapid breathing, a bluish tinge of skin, dehydration, abnormal responses, sudden worsening of symptoms after getting better, fever accompanied by skin rashes.
- Good hygiene habits of frequent hand washing with warm water and soap are recommended.
- Flu vaccination 2 weeks before the monsoon begins provides immunity to seasonal influenza. The vaccination for children is age-dependent and may require two doses spaced a month apart.
- Antiviral medications may help.
- Prevention is better than cure. Underlying conditions can make you vulnerable to infections. Stay out of the rain and avoid sudden differences in temperature and keeping the AC and ventilators on cold settings.
Care for the newborns and AIDS patients.
The reduced immunity if you suffer from AIDS makes even the so common cold a huge problem. It’s not so common after all? Well let’s look at why it is a very valid concern.
Take good care of yourself and avoid catching a cold. If you do get sick and you have AIDS, your body immunity will be low and you may find it hard to fight off colds and the flu. The HIV virus causing AIDS affects the immune system which is your only line of defense against germs and makes it impossible to stave off infections.
It is not the cold that can prove fatal. Rather complications like pneumonia and inflammation of pre-existing factors can cause a regression. Since there are no medicines for a cold, your symptoms can be helped by a doctor.
A cold will normally last about a week and goes away on its own even in people with HIV. But there is a real possibility of your symptoms getting severe and the need for aggressive treatment or hospitalization.
Shortness of breath, fever above 102 degrees C, lack of appetite and sleep can easily lead to unwanted complications. The best one can do is ensure you stay indoors, drink plenty of fluids and eat even the tiniest of meals when you catch a cold. Based on your symptoms doctors will prescribe medications to help. However you are your best defense and must aid your body to recovery! Preventive measures explained above can help you prevent catching a cold or the Flu.
Ask your family and friends to help keep germs away from you. Use a mild bleach solution or an anti-bacterial to clean hotspots like mobile phones, kitchen and bathroom countertops, toilets and sinks, the refrigerator handle, your computer mouse and TV remote and all things you use regularly. And, get your Flu vaccinations in time.
Newborn baby care cannot emphasize enough that the babies have a very weak immune system which is just growing. All of the above are true in their care. Love and care with the right medications are the only remedy to the very common issues of cold and Flu.
Over- The- Counter OTC Medications for a cold.
Today there are scores of over- the- counter OTC medications sold either as stand alone or as a combination of drugs and are freely available without a prescription. Here is what you need to know when picking your medications. Most contain the following.
- Decongestants help reduce swelling in the nasal passage and improve the flow of air. They come in pill form or nasal sprays. Never use the spray for more than 3 days.
- Antihistamines block a chemical in your body which makes the tissues in your nose get inflamed, itch and swell. Your runny nose and sneezing will get some relief from them.
- Vitamin C though used before has no proven aids to help the body. It is found in plenty in citrus fruits and can aid a healthy life and health balance.
Are they safe?
Older medications contained PPA or phenylpropanolamine which is linked to increasing the risk of strokes. Another chemical acetaminophen can cause serious liver damage. Check that the OTC medications you buy do not contain the chemicals and remember it is better to get a prescription drug.
Side effects of medications for a cold.
- Antihistamines cause drowsiness. Others effects could be dizziness, headache, and a dry mouth. Don’t take them in the daytime and never drive after taking them!
- Decongestants are taken in the day as they tend to keep you awake. They cause higher blood pressure values and should be taken under a doctor’s supervision if you suffer from high BP or heart problems. Your doctor may prescribe you medications that do not cause further complications.
- Nasal sprays are less likely to cause side effects and may be helpful at night for congestion.
KW: baby care, typhoid test, CBC test, FBS test, urine test, online doctor, back pain, uric acid test, AIDS, OTC medications, Vitamin C, nasal spray, decongestant, antihistamine