What is the difference between a cold and the flu?

How many times have you had a sore throat and a stuffy nose, but overwhelmed with obligations to not miss even a single day at the office? Although very unwell, coughing and sneezing, you run errands. In the evening, you eat warm chicken soup, drink tea and eat citrus fruits, and after a few days it’s all gone.

The flu, however, is a completely different matter. Generally speaking, it can be deadly. Each year in the United States, about 200,000 people enter the hospital because of the flu, and complications from the same diagnosis cause the death of about 36,000 people annually.

Periodically, flu waves appear that take on terrifying proportions. However, this is a small number compared to the horrific flu pandemic of 1918, when between 20 and 100 million people worldwide died from flu and flu complications.

The best protection against influenza is the vaccine, but still today only about 30% of the population of the most developed countries such as the USA are immunized each year. In Bulgaria, this number is even smaller, and people en masse say “I was immunized but I got a cold again!” not understanding that between a cold and the flu the difference is significant.

What is the difference between the flu and a cold and how do we know which one we have?

Flu is a viral infection caused by the influenza virus – a type of respiratory virus. > The common cold is also a viral infection, but it is caused by an adenovirus or a coronavirus and has many subgroups and varieties with a very large degree of variability in the clinical picture.

This is why it is said that there is no cure for the common cold, and unfortunately, there is no real vaccine either. The flu is primarily distinguished by the fact that it is preventable by vaccination.

Colds cause runny nose and nasal congestion, cause inflammation of the throat, which is accompanied by dryness, irritation, redness and sometimes even sharper pain.

On the other hand, flu attacks most often the lungs and joints, causes pneumonia, in more severe cases can affect the heart and could lead to heart failure and death.

In children, the influenza virus most often infects the intestinal tract and leads to diarrhea and vomiting. The reason is that children’s intestines are more immature and this leads to a greater uptake of viruses.< /p>

In individual cases, the flu can cause epidemics and even pandemics that can claim a large number of victims, while the common cold is, in most cases, a simple ailment.

How do we know if we have a cold, flu or allergy?

Flu season usually starts in early November and lasts until March with a peak season around the second half of January. Allergies, on the other hand, are more common in spring and autumn, and colds – whenever the weather is more humid and cool.

In general, the human body can respond in many different ways, but there are still some ways to distinguish the disease.
Usually, with an allergy, the body does not react so aggressively, but rather irritated.

there is itching in the back of the throat and in the ears, sneezing and a runny nose also occur, but usually there is no fever.

With a cold, a temperature appears more often, but not high and for a short time.

The duration of cold viral infections is quite different. the cold passes the fastest. A cold usually goes away within 7 to 10 days. And the flu is much longer.

Even after the immune system copes with the reproduction of the virus, a person does not feel completely cured, and the unpleasant experience can last 3 – 4 weeks after the infection. Allergy is the longest. Her symptoms, although milder, can last for months.

How do the treatment methods differ?

The first line of defense can start with rinsing the nose and mucous membranes with warm salted water or saline, which will “hit” the virus and wash it away the mucous membrane. The experience itself is not very pleasant, but it is very effective.

There are also powerful antiviral preparations that prevent the influenza virus from multiplying, but for this purpose they must be taken within the first 24 hours, because after that the infectious organism has already replicated sufficiently and begins to works.

A lot of fluids, vitamins, fruits and warm soup should be taken both with a cold and with the flu.

Zinc helps the body fight infections and shortens their duration. the body’s cells need zinc as a catalyst in their defense processes, so eating foods rich in zinc will help the body fight disease more easily.

It is good to temporarily reduce the consumption of iron because it is useful not only for humans, but also for viruses. They badly need iron for their reproduction, so if you stop taking iron temporarily, you will deprive the viruses of the means they need to survive.

The majority of these infections are not bacterial, that is, the use of antibiotics is not necessary. If the flu does not go away for 7-10 days, it is likely that bacterial complications have occurred.

Bacterial infections after the flu can last longer.

And what is the approach when the patient is a child?

In general, the treatment does not differ much in children from that in adults. Most children catch a cold 6-8 times a year > during the first 3 years of his life.

Before prescribing antibiotics, it is advisable to test the child for bacterial infection so that antibiotics are not taken without reason.

What are the ways to avoid cold and flu?

Strict hygiene, thorough hand washing, avoiding contact with sneezing people, use of personal utensils and cups. while the virus carrier has a fever, he is able to transmit the virus to other people.

The surest way to prevent the flu is immunization. It is recommended for anyone who has no medical contraindications (e.g. allergy to eggs, etc.).

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