Because a cold and flu (short for influenza) have many symptoms in common, it is easy to mistake one illness for the other. Early detection of the flu and being treated before the virus progresses can really make a big difference in its duration and severity.
So being able to tell the difference between the two is crucial. And even though you may not get it right every time, here are 5 symptoms that will help you be able to more accurately detect the flu.
High Fever – One of the symptoms that is usually not present with a cold is high fever. With the flu, the onset of the fever is usually very sudden and the temperature generally ranges from 102 to higher. The increase in body temperature is an indication that the body is fighting a significant threat.
Aches and Pains – Muscles are achy for seemingly no reason, and the pain is usually not associated with muscles in a specific part of the body like legs or arms, but all over the body. Many complain that even the sheet hurts when it touches the body.
Erratic Body Temperature – Often a flu victim will feel cold to the point of teeth chattering one moment, then flushed, warm, or even perspiring profusely the next. This is rarely the case with the common cold.
Tiredness – Many of us can power through a cold, going on with daily activities while being congested, sneezing, coughing, and nursing a runny nose. And while this is not the recommended way to treat a cold, most people generally maintain an energy level that is pretty close to normal.
With the flu, there is a noticeable lack of energy. Some describe it as feeling like the wind has gone out of their sails, or that they have been hit by a Mack truck. This is a clear indication that the body is using all of its energy to fight off a condition that is more serious than a cold.
Dry Cough – Many times a cold will produce increased mucous. This is the body’s way of trying to flush out the germs. Many times the excess fluid will drain from the nose into the throat causing a cough that brings up this phlegm. With the flu, the cough is often an acute dry cough.
Obviously, these symptoms can vary from one individual to another and should serve as general guidelines. And since the flu is spread by airborne viruses, and can affect huge numbers of people very quickly, early detection is the key to not only your good health, but the good health of those around you.
If you suspect that you have the flu, seek medical attention immediately, because if treated in the first 48 hours you can greatly increase your chances of reducing the duration and diminishing the effects of the flu.