Great…. You’re coming down with something…. No sense denying it now, you’re sneezing and your throat is starting to get scratchy. It’s probably just a cold… right? Or could it be the dreaded….flu?
It’s that time of year – cold and flu season. Across the country and here in Tucson, Influenza season is upon us. At the Urgent Specialists, we have already had many patients come in with full-blown flu symptoms.
When you begin to come down with cold symptoms, how can you tell if it simply is a cold or the start of something worse? Colds and the “Flu” share many of the same symptoms but there are some key differences.
Progression of symptoms: Colds have a pretty typical pattern that they follow. They often begin with a slight sniffle, gradually progress to sneezing, a worsening running nose and perhaps a mild sore throat. As the cold progresses, we may begin to have some plugging of our ears. The runny nose may persist for some time as the other symptoms resolve. A flu is often much more severe, with rapid progression of symptoms that can lead to breathing problems and persistent cough.
Fever: You may have a mild fever with a cold, but high fever is much more typical of the flu.
Muscle aches and pains, headache and tiredness: This is most common with a flu. When you have the flu, you typically feel bad. The symptoms of flu are much more severe than that of a cold, take longer to resolve, and may sometimes result in serious complications.
Are you feeling like you may have the flu? Stay hydrated and get it checked out. Many facilities like Urgent Specialists have rapid influenza diagnostic testing to help with quick and accurate diagnosis. Rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDTs) can provide results within approximately 15 minutes.
If you think you have the flu, take it seriously. As reported by the CDC, studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatments when they are started within 2 days of getting sick. However, starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health condition or is very sick from the flu (for example, hospitalized patients). Let Urgent Specialists examine you and determine the treatment plan right for you.
Prevention Tip: The flu shot is recommended from the CDC for everyone who is 6 months and older. This includes pregnant women. If you have a fever or cough, stay home. Remember when people have a cough, the virus can be transmitted through small droplets in the air. So to protect yourself and others, be sure to cover your mouth when coughing and wash your hands frequently. This can prevent transmission of the illness to your colleagues or loved ones.