Many of us dread the cold weather that signals the onset of cold and flu season. But colds or the flu can strike at any time. When they do come, they come with unpleasant symptoms that can cause anything from minor discomfort to a debilitating weakness that sends you to bed for days. What are colds and the flu, what is the difference and how can we treat them?
What Are Colds and Flu?
Both colds and the flu are caused by a virus. In the case of colds, a rhinovirus and in the case of the flu, an influenza virus. These viruses both negatively impact the human respiratory system but can have very different symptoms. One of the biggest differentiating factors is a fever, which is normal for the flu but rare for a cold.
Cold symptoms also can include stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, and sneezing, while the flu is more often characterized by symptoms like aches, pains, and chills, although sore throat and stuffy nose are also occasionally symptoms.
What Causes Colds and Flu?
You get a cold or the flu when viruses that cause them get into your system. This usually happens through airborne transmission. Someone else coughs or sneezes and you inhale droplets containing the virus, which then reproduces in your system. Similarly, someone with the virus may get it on their hands, and if you then touch those hands or something they have touched, you can transmit the virus to yourself by touching your nose or mouth.
How Are Colds and Flu Treated?
The best way to manage colds and the flu is through prevention, which is why it is very important to wash your hands frequently and minimize touching your mouth and nose, especially if you have just been somewhere where virus transmission is likely. Unfortunately, there are no real cures for viruses. However, flu vaccinations can help protect you from the latest iteration of the flu or give you significantly reduced symptoms.
If you already have the flu, be sure to get a doctor’s recommendation. Part of that recommendation will usually be to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and get lots of bed rest. Symptoms should decline and go away after about a week.
What to Do I Do If My Symptoms Get Worse?
If symptoms do not start to decline after a few days or start to get worse, you should seek treatment, as the flu can lead to potentially fatal conditions like pneumonia. In the Whittier area, you can walk right into BeWell Immediate Care and see a health care provider within 30 minutes on a typical day. We can determine if you have a cold or the flu, suggest treatments such as antiviral drugs or antibiotics if necessary, and make recommendations for continuing care.
BeWell Immediate Care for Colds & Flu Near Whittier, CA
BeWell Immediate Care is brought to you by the experts at the Montes Medical Group. We offer quick, reliable medical assessments at care at low cost. If you or your child is suffering from a cold or the flu and you wish to be seen by a professional right away, or if you are interested in flu vaccinations, come to our clinic at 12533 Washington Blvd., Suite B in Whittier now or schedule a consultation on our website.