These viruses are very contagious and really have no cure. The best thing you can do when you have a virus is to stay home and get plenty of rest and fluids. But, how do you know if you have the flu or just a common cold? Here are some clues to help:
Signs you may have the common cold:
- Usually starts mildly with a sore throat for a day or two.
- Runny nose and/or congestion (mucus starts out clear and thin and may get thicker and darker/colored. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it has progressed to a bacterial or sinus infection.
- Cough may develop by the third to fifth day.
- Fever is uncommon in adults or may be low-grade. However, children are more likely to have fever with a cold.
- Symptoms can last for up to a week and you are contagious in the first three days.
- If symptoms last longer than a week, seek medical attention because you may have a bacterial infection and need antibiotics.
Signs you may have the flu:
- More severe symptoms that come on quickly.
- Sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches/soreness, congestion and cough. Some flu strains may even present with vomiting and diarrhea.
- Extreme exhaustion early in the illness. Fatigue can last for two to three weeks.
- A common complication of the flu is pneumonia, especially in the young, elderly, or people with lung or heart problems.
- Antiviral drugs for flu, started within 48 hours, are not required for treatment, but may somewhat relieve the symptoms and help you recover up to a day sooner than you might without the medication.
- You are contagious beginning one day BEFORE you have symptoms, up to five to seven days after having symptoms. The generally accepted time frame to return to work/school is five days after the start of symptoms, or after being fever free for 24 hours, whichever time frame is LONGER.
Remember, practice frequent hand washing; stay away for those who are sick; and stay home when you are sick!