Cold and flu season is in full swing, and more than likely, you've encountered someone who's been fighting off one illness or the other. While cold and flu symptoms are similar, our break down helps you better determine which is which.
If you feel as though your symptoms have been gradually getting worse over the course of a couple days, chances are you're trying to fight off a cold. Cold symptoms usually include:
- Fever, rare but mild if present
- Slight aches and pains, muscle aches, chest discomfort (sickness felt in head and nose)
- Rare to mild fatigue and weakness
- Stuffy or a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat common
- Hacking cough, typically responds to cough medications
- Infectious period: varies, usually 4-7 days after your symptoms initially begin
The good news? As long as your symptoms stay mild and don't worsen, you should be able to kick a cold by taking care of yourself - extra sleep, lots of fluids and possibly staying home from work.
Instead of symptoms appearing slowly, the flu often hits people suddenly and quickly. Common flu symptoms include:
- Fever, almost always and usually high
- Aches and pains, muscle aches, chest discomfort can be severe (sickness felt over entire body)
- Moderate to severe fatigue and weakness
- Stuffy or a runny nose may occur; a sore throat, chills and headache common
- A non-productive cough can become severe
- Infectious period: 1 day before symptoms begin; 3-7 days after
- Flu vaccine available to protect against illness
While you may be tempted to push through your symptoms, the flu is a serious illness and not something to be taken lightly - you may even need to seek medical care. Be sure to remain home (with the exception of medical care) for at least 24 hours after your fever goes away.
Getting your flu shot is your best protection. If you haven't received the flu shot yet, schedule it today!
Consult a Provider
Don't hesitate to call your provider about the best treatment options for a cold or the flu, especially if your symptoms worsen. To find a provider or clinic near you, use our Find a Doctor tool. If you can't get into your provider at a time that fits your schedule, Urgent Care is available seven days a week at our seven convenient locations around the Des Moines metro. Our Urgent Care clinics also offer reserve your spot, which secures your spot ahead of time and helps limit your time in the waiting room!
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