Uh-oh. You can feel the beginning symptoms of a cold or the flu coming on. It may begin with sneezing or a runny nose. You start to wonder, do I have a common cold or is it something more, like the flu?
What Causes a Cold?
There are more than 100 viruses that can cause a cold. The main culprit is rhinovirus which is also extremely contagious. The cold virus enters your body through the eyes, nose or mouth. When someone who is sick coughs, talks or sneezes, the virus can spread through droplets in the air. A cold can also be spread by hand-to-hand contact and through the sharing of toys, utensils or even a cell phone.
Symptoms of a Cold
The symptoms of a cold generally begin to appear 1 to 3 days after the initial exposure to the cold virus. Someone with a common cold will likely experience some, if not all, of the following symptoms:
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Sore throat
- Watery eyes
- Mild fatigue
- Body aches
Currently, there is no vaccine available for colds. However, there are measures that can be taken to try to prevent the cold virus.
- Wash your hands. Wash hands often and thoroughly during the cold season and teach children to do the same.
- Scrub your stuff. To help prevent a cold, keep bathroom and kitchen countertops clean, especially if someone in your household has come down with a cold. Also, wash your children’s toys on a regular basis.
- Don’t share. Avoid sharing drinks or utensils with other family members during cold season. If someone has a cold, label their drinking glass, so no one mistakenly drinks from it.
- Stay away from people who have colds. If someone you know has come down with a cold, try to steer clear of them or avoid spending extended periods of time with them.
What Causes the Flu?
The flu virus changes often and new strains appear regularly. Similar to a cold, the flu can be spread through the air by droplets when someone sneezes, coughs or even just talks. It enters the body through the nose, mouth or eyes.
Symptoms of the Flu
If an individual has contracted the flu, he or she will likely be contagious before symptoms begin to appear. When symptoms of the flu do appear, they can include any or all of the following:
- Achy muscles, particularly in the back, arms and legs
- Dry cough
The flu vaccination can help provide protection from that particular year’s most common strains of the flu. However, the vaccine can’t guarantee 100 percent protection. Take these additional steps to help prevent the flu this year:
- Wash your hands. Frequent hand washing can help prevent a person from contracting the flu virus. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Contain your cough or sneeze. If you feel you’re about to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth. To avoid sneezing on your hands, try to use a tissue or sneeze into your arm.
- Avoid large crowds during peak flu season. The flu can spread easily in large or congested crowds. Try to avoid crowds during peak flu season to reduce your chances of becoming infected with the flu. The same goes if you’re sick with the flu. Avoid going into crowded places and infecting others.
Both the flu and cold are respiratory illnesses but they are not caused by the same virus. The cold is not able to be treated with antiviral medication, but the flu can be treated with antiviral drugs like Tamiflu®. Tamiflu is a prescription medicine used to treat the flu (influenza) in people who have had flu symptoms for no more than 2 days.
How Can Virtual Care Help?
A cold or flu never fails to appear at the most inconvenient times. Whether you’re on the go, getting ready for the big presentation at work, or at your child’s basketball game, virtual care is there for you!
Immediate Care from a Medical Professional
When the cold or flu hits, you want immediate help from a medical professional. With virtual care, a board-certified telehealth provider is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The provider can diagnose your symptoms and, if necessary, prescribe medication and send the prescription to the pharmacy of your choice.
Care Where You Are
Whether you’re on your couch or taking a family road trip, virtual care is where you are. As long as you have registered for virtual care, you can use the service anywhere in the United States.
Treatment of a Variety of Common Conditions
Virtual care can treat and diagnose a variety of minor medical conditions, including:
- Ear infection
- Sore throat
- and more!
Don’t Be Caught Off Guard
Don’t let a cold or the flu get the best of you. With virtual care, you can call or make an online appointment with a provider whenever it works best for you. Register for virtual care today to get care when you need it most. Signing up is easy and can be done by doing the following: