What's the difference between a cold and the flu?

It's common to hear people use the terms "cold" and "flu" interchangeably, but the two illnesses are actually quite different. Both a cold and the flu are caused by viruses, and can be spread through coughing and sneezing, but the symptoms and severity of each virus are notably different. In this blog post, we'll discuss the differences between a cold and the flu and provide helpful tips on how to prevent them.

In this article, we will learn about:

     ⦁    Causes

     ⦁    Symptoms

     ⦁    Treatment

     ⦁    Prevention

1. Causes of Cold and flu

The common cold is usually caused by a virus, while the flu is caused by the influenza virus. The viruses that cause colds are typically spread through the air and contact with other people, such as sneezing or shaking hands. On the other hand, the influenza virus can be spread through the air and contact with contaminated objects, like doorknobs or utensils. Cold viruses can also survive on surfaces for a few hours, while the flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours.

    2.  The Symptoms

Colds and flu can have similar symptoms, but they are caused by different viruses. Colds usually cause mild to moderate symptoms that may include a sore throat, runny nose, congestion, sneezing, coughing, and sometimes a mild fever. Flu symptoms, on the other hand, are usually more severe and include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and headaches.

   3. The Treatment

When it comes to treating the flu and a cold, the main goal is to make you feel more comfortable. There are some key differences between treatments for a cold and the flu. 

For a cold, over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or decongestants may be used to ease discomfort. It's also important to get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, and gargle with salt water to soothe a sore throat. 

When it comes to treating the flu, antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) may be prescribed by a healthcare provider. It's especially important to seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen. Taking antiviral drugs within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms can reduce the duration and severity of the illness. 

Other home remedies for both colds and the flu include using a humidifier to add moisture to the air, keeping your nose and mouth covered when coughing or sneezing, and washing your hands frequently.

     4.   The Prevention

The best way to prevent catching a cold or the flu is to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. If you know you’ve been exposed to someone who has a cold or the flu, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, and throw the tissue away after use. You can also take steps to boost your immune system by getting plenty of rest, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of fluids, and reducing stress. Vaccines are available to help protect against some strains of the flu, so it’s important to get vaccinated each year.

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