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Is It A Cold Or Flu?

Verified By Apollo General Physician June 12, 2019 4320 0

Right now in urban and rural India, the situation is the same. You may have common cold at any time of the year! Gone are those days when people used to suffer from a cold only in winter. Be it the atmospheric pollution in cities or the changing weather patterns, we tend to get cold at least thrice a year! Densely populated areas of our country contribute further for its virality.

However, one thing that most often gets people confused is the incidence of cold vs flu. Many of us who suffer from flu tend to refer to it as cold or vice versa. We only have a vague idea about the similarities, but we don’t know how dissimilar they are.

We have this strange feeling with sneezing, cough, and feverishness, but we don’t know if it’s common cold or flu. In fact, there are many symptoms that are different for flu when compared to cold. However, it’s very important to know the difference between cold and flu. Flu is more virulent and can cause serious threat if left untreated as against cold.


Let us get to the bottom of this and clear the confusion between cold and flu right from the symptoms to the treatment and prognosis.

What is cold?

Cold is generally referred to as a mild respiratory illness and one would recover in a few days. It is called common cold for the fact that it’s a seasonal respiratory infection. It most likely resolves in a matter of two weeks, and generally doesn’t lead to serious health complications.

As many as 100 viruses are associated with common cold with rhinovirus being most prevalent. In all probability, you are sneezing, coughing and sniffling due to the rhinovirus. Most of the cold causing viruses become active in environments that are low in humidity. This doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t catch cold in other conditions.

Symptoms of cold:

Sore throat.
● Nasal conditions like runny or congested nose.
● Cough.
● Body pains.
● Fatigue.
● Sneezing.

Though the symptoms of cold last for a week, one has to be careful for the first three days as the risk of transmitting the disease to others is quite high. As common cold is generally viral in nature, it’s not advisable to go for antibiotics unless it’s a bacterial infection that lead to the cold.

Medication is given for relief from symptoms. Antihistamines, decongestants and NSAIDs are given for relief. It’s advised that the patient should keep hydrating to avoid dehydration.

Common cold is a condition that has to be endured and not cured. This doesn’t mean that one has to keep suffering from it all the while. One has to consult a doctor if the cold is stubborn and doesn’t get cured. This is so as the patient might have some kind of allergies, or might be suffering from a bacterial infection like sinusitis and strep throat. If the cough doesn’t wean off, then there might be chances of asthma or bronchitis.

There are many home remedies that can alleviate symptoms, but one has to consult doctor if the cold is not cured in a week. You can now consult eminent Family Practitioners from Apollo Hospitals online. Book an appointment here.

What is Flu?

The symptoms of a common flu are much more severe than the symptoms of common cold. Known as Influenza, flu is a contagious respiratory disease caused by viruses. There are different types of flu. The flu virus enters the body through the mucus membranes of nose, eyes, and mouth.

There are many types of flu viruses some of which are highly dangerous. Human influenza viruses A and B cause seasonal illnesses. Influenza virus C causes mild respiratory infections. This is not epidemic in nature generally. An alarming fact about influenza virus is that new strains of them emerge and cause pandemics.

There are also the much more serious viruses that come from non-human sources. Avian(bird) Flu, swine flu, dog flu, horse flu. Some strains of these flu viruses can spread to humans and may lead to death. Most of you are well aware of swine flu and H1N1 virus that created havoc in the recent years.

The common symptoms of flu include:

● Dry Cough.
● High Fever.
● Sore Throat.
● Shaking Chills.
● Severe body aches.
● Running nose or nose congestion.
● Fatigue.

Treatment for Flu:

Antiviruses like Tamiflu, Relenza, and Rapivab are prescribed by the doctor. The doctor would also advice generous fluid intake along with a lot of rest. Over the counter painkillers, and decongestants may also be prescribed. Remember, take these medications only under the guidance of a medical practitioner.

When to visit a Family Physician?

People with symptoms of flu should contact a doctor immediately if they have diarrhea and vomiting. Since flu can lead to pneumonia, one should consult a General Physician as soon as possible. Also, pregnant women, people aged above 50, and children under two years with symptoms of flu should contact a doctor right away.

Any person with symptoms of flu who has trouble breathing, extreme sore throat, chest discomfort, and trouble interacting should contact a doctor immediately.

You can now contact the best of Family Physicians of Apollo Hospitals online. Please book an appointment for an online consultation here.

Verified By Apollo General Physician

Our expert general medicine specialists verify the clinical accuracy of the content to deliver the most trusted source of information, making the management of health an empowering experience.

8000+ Top doctors Associated and Apollo Hospitals is continuosly ranked as No1 Multispecialty Hospitals in India with best in class treatments for Cancer, Knee replacements, Liver Transplant, Heart, Diabetes, Kidney.

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