There are two things the flu and a cold always seem to have in common and those are…
- You feel miserable
- You don’t know if what you have is the flu or just a cold.
You’re not alone. Every month countless people fall victim to one or the other of these common illnesses and thousands turn to online searching to try to figure out which one they have.
Unfortunately many end up even more confused than when they started. So let’s clear up that confusion once and for all.
By paying close attention to your symptoms you can almost always determine whether it’s a cold or the flu that’s struck you down.
Know your common cold symptoms
Let’s start with symptoms of the common cold:
- The symptoms for a cold typically build up over a day or two and are generally mild.
- Most of your symptoms will strike “above the neck” and they usually include a stuffy nose, sniffling, sneezing and perhaps coughing and a sore throat.
- A mild fever, mild body aches, a mild headache and mild tiredness can all occur with a cold, but are less typical than with the flu.
- Colds usually resolve with a week to 10 days and don’t usually lead to complications or more serious illnesses.
- If your symptoms hang on well beyond 10 days you might have a bacterial infection and you should consider giving your doctor a call.
Know your typical flu symptoms
And now let’s take a look at typical symptoms for the flu:
- Flu symptoms usually appear fast and hit hard within less than a day.
- Typical flu symptoms are a high fever for several days, chills, a dry cough, headache, severe body aches and severe fatigue which can last for over a week.
- A stuffy or runny nose can occur with the flu, but are far less common than with a cold.
- Vomiting and diarrhea can also occur with the flu, but they are more common in children.
- Symptoms are relatively severe and can sometimes lead to complications or more serious illnesses such as pneumonia.
Try the “Cold and Flu Symptom” chart
This handy Cold and Flu Symptom Chart can help you quickly pinpoint which illness you have.
|Onset||Gradually develops over a day or 2.||Hits suddenly over 3 to 6 hours.|
|Chills||Unusual with a cold.||Common with flu.|
|Body aches||Mild, not common.||Severe, common.|
|Fever||Uncommon.||100 or higher for 3+ days typical.|
|Chest ache||Usually mild.||Often severe.|
|Cough||Productive, mucous producing.||Dry, non-productive.|
|Stuffy nose||Common, often resolves 7 – 10 days.||Uncommon with the flu.|
|Sore throat||Common.||Less common.|
|Fatigue||Mild tiredness.||Moderate to severe fatigue.|
|Vomiting||Very uncommon.||Can occur – more common in kids.|
|Diarrhea||Very uncommon.||Can occur – more common in kids.|
Cold and flu “Do’s and Don’ts”
So you’re now relatively sure which illness it is that’s knocked you down for the count.
But now what?
First things first, DON’T take an antibiotic. Both colds and the flu are caused by viruses, and antibiotics won’t do a darn thing to help you with a virus.
But they CAN do some serious damage to your gut flora balance leaving you more vulnerable to all kinds of other health complications.
Unless your illness has morphed into something more serious such as a bacterial infection like pneumonia (highly unlikely with a cold and relatively rare with the flu) don’t bother with an antibiotic.
Supplements, however, may be able to help turn the tide.
250-500 mg of vitamin C at the start of the illness and daily until the cold resolves
The cells in your body, including your immune cells, require zinc to do their job. Taken regularly (as instructed on package) over the first 48 hours or so of a cold, zinc could help your body fight off the virus naturally shortening the length and severity of your cold.
Saline nasal spray:
While you’re actively suffering with symptoms a saline nasal spray may help flush some of the virus out of your system.
With either the cold or the flu make sure you’re drinking plenty of liquids and give chicken soup a try which has been shown to have some cold-fighting powers of its own (yes, just like grandma used to tell you).
Common sense tips to dodge a cold or the flu
You can often dodge a cold or the flu in the first place by taking a few simple precautions.
For either illness:
- Stay away from anyone with symptoms.
- Frequently wash your hands in warm soapy water.
- Keep your hands away from your nose, eyes and mouth.
- Don’t share cups or utensils.
Also arm your immune system with the building blocks it needs to create a powerful defense against any invading viruses including vitamin D3, vitamin C and a quality probiotic.
Check out these 6 Tips for Staying Healthy All Winter Long from Healthier Talk contributor Dr. Amanda Levitt. And natural health advocate and author Tony Isaacs feel better fast cold tips can be just what the doctor ordered if you’ve been blindsided with a cold.
We believe that everyone has good ideas about how best to care for our loved ones and ourselves. Many of our contributors are doctors that have spent their life’s work invested in the health and well being of the human body and mind. Some have spent their lives tirelessly researching health and the human body, developing new vitamins and products dedicated to making people healthier.
Others are ordinary people that have natural family cures passed down from generations, or discovered an inexpensive home remedy out of necessity or even by accident.
So Healthier Talk not only offers professional advice and solutions, but also provides much sought after natural family cures and at-home remedies, right at your fingertips!