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Is it a Cold or the Flu?

Cold and Flu Season is here! When you wake up sneezing, coughing, and have that achy, feverish, can’t move a muscle feeling, how do you know whether you have cold symptoms or the flu?

 

It’s important to know the difference between flu and cold symptoms. A cold is a milder respiratory illness than the flu. While cold symptoms can make you feel bad for a few days, flu symptoms can make you feel quite ill for a few days to weeks. The flu can also result in serious health problems such as pneumonia and hospitalizations.

So how can you tell the difference?

Colds tend to start with a sore throat and progress to the congestion, runny nose and cough that we all hate.With cold symptoms, the nose teems with watery nasal secretions for the first few days. Later, these become thicker and darker. Dark mucus is natural and does not usually mean you have developed a bacterial infection, such as a sinus infection.

If cold symptoms do not seem to be improving after a week, you may have a bacterial infection, which means you may need antibiotics.

Flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms and come on quickly and include sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches and soreness, congestion, and cough. Most flu symptoms gradually improve over two to five days, but can cause fatigue and soreness for days after.  The real danger in the flu is the possibility of pneumonia, a risk that is increased in children and the elderly.

If you have fever with severe aches and pains you probably have the flu. If you have a sore throat and runny nose it is most likely a cold.

Whether you have a cold or flu, it is important to stay home and rest to avoid spreading germs and to help your body recover. If your symptoms last more than a few days or your symptoms are getting severe such as a very high fever or having trouble breathing it is time to see a doctor.

Protect Yourself From the Flu

The CDC is reporting an especially virulent and severe flu this season. The travel, stress and activity of the holidays can weaken your immune system as well as provide a perfect opportunity for germ spreading.  Many people don’t take the flu seriously, but remember it kills thousands and sickens millions each year, but it can be prevented.  So keep these tips in mind as you prepare to return to the office after the holidays.

Ways you can prevent getting the flu:

  1. Get the flu shot: The most effective defense against the flu is the flu shot. While they are usually a must for those who are most vulnerable (the young, the old and those with compromised immune systems), getting the flu shot can not only keep you healthy, but your loved ones healthy as well.  The flu shot is safe, effective and easily available through your doctor or pharmacy.
  2. Wash your hands often: This should be a no brainer.  It sounds so simple, but soap and water are the constant companions of doctors and nurses. To completely get rid of viruses from your skin, you need to scrub hard for 20 seconds or more. A good way to time yourself is to sing “Happy Birthday” twice while scrubbing the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. It doesn’t matter if the water’s hot or cold — the very act of scrubbing will physically remove the germs. If a sink isn’t readily accessible invest in an alcohol based hand sanitizer and use it after each time you come into contact with someone.
  3. Sanitize your environment- Germy fingers touch plenty of surfaces in your home and work. Wipe down phones, keyboards, doorknobs, sinks with Lysol or any common household disinfectant especially in the bathroom and kitchen!
  4. Eat Well & Stay Rested- Keep your immune system in tip top shape, eat healthy and get plenty of rest.
  5. If you are sick, stay home!- If your employees are sick, make them stay home.  One sick person can infect many more.