Cold or Flu – How to Tell if you have either the cold or the flu

The flu is otherwise known as influenza and is caused by a virus, not a bacteria. As such, it is not treatable with antibiotics. The flu affects the respiratory system: your throat, nose, bronchial tubes and lungs. The elderly and young children, specifically infants are more susceptible to the flu than healthy young adults although you can contract the flu at any age. Anyone with a chronic condition such as diabetes, lung or heart problems that are ongoing or those with a impaired immune function is at higher risk for the flu as well. The prime time for flu outbreaks falls between the month of October through May and flu peaks during the December – early March time period.

How to Tell if You have the Flu:

It can be difficult to distinguish between the cold and the flu because many of the symptoms are quite similar. If you have a cold it is also caused by a virus and colds target the nose, throat and airways of the lungs.

Both Colds and Flu have the following symptoms:

* Scratchy sore throat
* Runny nose or general "stuffiness" in the nasal area
* Hoarseness
* Sneezing
* Coughing
* Fever

Differences between the cold and the flu:

* Fever of 101 Degrees or above (children may have fever if affected by the flu)
* Night sweats and/or cold chills
* Severe Muscle Aches
* Strong headache
* Deep fatigue and weakness

Additionally, if you are stricken with the flu, your symptoms may appear very suddenly and overall, you may feel much more ill if you have the flue as opposed to a cold. Recovery time, however, with the flu is generally around 7 to 10 days unless you have complications.

Types of complications that may occur with the flu include bronchitis, an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, and pneumonia, another type of lung infection. As always, if you have concerns or questions about your health you should contact your doctor or health care professional. There are medications for the flu that if given quickly enough after your symptoms begin, may shorten the duration and intensity of the flu illness. So learn as much as you can before the flu season begins about flu symptoms and contact your doctor right away if you think you have the flu so that you can be given options if needed for medication to reduce your flu symptoms.