Their symptoms are similar, making it hard to tell the difference between cold and flu. OneShare Health will help you stay informed.
As cold and flu season begins knocking on our doors, and COVID-19 insists on overstaying its “welcome,” we all need to take extra precautions to protect ourselves, our Ministry, and our loved ones from illness. This means that, in addition to keeping a positive mindset and practicing healthy living habits in general, we should be proactive and focus on some “practical” tips for cold and flu prevention.
What is the difference between cold and flu?
Though both are considered respiratory illnesses, colds and flu are caused by different viruses. Generally, the flu is worse than a cold, with flu symptoms being more intense than symptoms of a cold. And, unlike colds, the flu can lead to very serious complications including pneumonia, bacterial infections, and hospitalizations, according to the CDC.
Take a look at this chart, which explains the difference between cold and flu signs and symptoms:
Image Source: CDC Website
With proper treatment, cold symptoms usually subside within 7-10 days, while flu symptoms can last for up to two weeks, according to healthline.com.
How to Prevent Cold and Flu
We’ve compiled some tips from credible health experts like the CDC when it comes to preventing the spread of cold and flu. Take a look at these recommendations:
Tip #1: Avoid close contact. Colds and flu are most often spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs (sometimes even when they talk!) near another person, so it’s best to stay at least six feet apart from people who are, or you suspect might be, sick.
Tip #2: Cover your mouth and nose. Sometimes, an infected person doesn’t even know they’ve been exposed until a few days after the virus has entered their system. That’s why you should always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or with the inside of your elbow when you feel a cough or sneeze coming on.
Tip #3: Clean your hands. It’s recommended that you wash your hands with anti-bacterial hand soap*, but hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol effectively kills germs, too. The CDC recommends cleaning your hands:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
*Visit the CDC’s website to learn the proper hand-washing technique!
Tip #4: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs are often transmitted when a person touches a contaminated object and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
When Does Cold and Flu Season End?
According to the FDA, flu season in the United States may begin as early as October and last until May, and it generally peaks between December and February. Colds can be contracted year-round, especially following a drop in temperature (hence why it’s called a “cold”).
Remember, as a OneShare Health Member, 24/7 Clever Health™ Smart Virtual Care (Telemedicine) is available for a 100% Shared Consult Fee. So, if you or a family member is experiencing cold or flu symptoms, read more about Smart Virtual Care (Telemedicine) and how to get connected here! As always, in case of a Life-Threatening Emergency, dial 911 immediately.
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“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2 (NIV)