Don't let flu symptoms fool you

What do a cold and the flu have in common? Both a cold and the flu are respiratory sicknesses. However,...

What do a cold and the flu have in common? Both a cold and the flu are respiratory sicknesses. However, they are caused by completely different viruses, with different symptoms. Don't let flu symptoms fool you into thinking you have a cold.

So what's the difference?

Having the flu and a cold are so similar. The flu, also known as influenza, is a respiratory infection caused by a very contagious virus. Usually the influenza virus enters the body through the mouth, nose or eyes.

For example, if someone has the flu and they cough or sneeze, then the virus goes into the air and anyone who inhales the air can catch the virus. Also, if you touch any surface where the virus has spread then touch your lips or nose, you can catch it. In public places, like schools, libraries, and public transporation, the chances of catching the flu are much greater.

With the flu, systems come on quickly; with a cold, symptoms come on slowly. With the flu, you may get a fever and have aches. Sometimes those aches are severe. However, a cold rarely presents with a fever, and you wouldn't have severe aches. Additionally, with the flu you may also have chills, fatigue, chest discomfort, coughing and headaches. With the common cold you may have slight coughing, chills, and a headache, but nothing severe.

Prevention and treatment

A flu shot is a good idea, especially if you work in a hospital or otherwise come in contact with children, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems. You can get a flu shot at your doctor's office, a clinic, or a company that gives flu shots.

It is very important that you call an Atlanta-area doctor if you experience flu symptoms. Your health and well-being is important, so take good care of yourself.

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