Cold, Flu, or Covid: Get Better Faster When You Know the Symptoms
The common cold and the flu are both respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. However, while they have some similarities, there are notable differences.
What is a cold?
The common cold is generally a mild illness. It is one of the most widespread illnesses worldwide, caused by over 200 viruses. Common cold symptoms can include a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, and congestion. Generally, colds start with minor symptoms that worsen over a period of days. Colds don’t typically last very long and can be managed with medications. Colds aren’t usually medically serious.
What is the flu?
The flu, or influenza, is caused by a specific type of virus and is usually more severe than a cold. Symptoms of the flu are similar to those of a cold, but the flu can also include more severe symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and a dry cough. The flu can be very serious and even fatal in some cases. Flu symptoms tend to appear suddenly and can be debilitating.
The main difference between a cold and the flu is their severity. Colds are milder than the flu, and the symptoms are usually not as severe. Flu symptoms can be more powerful and more likely to cause serious complications.
Both colds and flu are transmitted by tiny airborne droplets and through contact with contaminated surfaces or infected people.
Colds, flu, and covid require different treatments.
- Viruses cause colds, and most treatments focus on relieving the symptoms. Treatments usually involve rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers, decongestants, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Treating the flu is different because a different type of virus causes the flu. For most people, the flu can be treated with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications to ease the symptoms. However, antiviral medications might be necessary for people who are at high risk of complications from the flu, such as pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and the elderly. Vaccines are also available that can help prevent the flu.
Should I visit urgent care if I think I have a cold or the flu?
If you have common cold symptoms like a persistent cough, a sore throat, runny nose, and congestion, you should consider visiting an urgent care facility.
Cold symptoms can often be mild, but they can also be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. At an urgent care center, a medical professional can assess the seriousness of the cold and provide you with the necessary treatment. Depending on your symptoms, the doctor may prescribe medication, recommend at-home remedies, or refer you to a specialist for further evaluation or treatment. Visiting an urgent care is the best way to ensure that your cold is properly evaluated and treated, if necessary.
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, the best course of action is to visit an urgent care center. Urgent care centers are equipped to diagnose and treat illnesses, and they are often less expensive and more convenient than visiting the emergency room. At an urgent care, you can receive a diagnosis, treatment, and advice on how to manage your symptoms. Additionally, some urgent care centers can even offer medication that can help to reduce the severity and duration of the flu.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, the urgent care medical team might also recommend that you follow up if you don’t improve.
The flu can cause serious complications, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and even death, especially in those with weakened immune systems or other health conditions. Elderly people and those with chronic illnesses are particularly vulnerable to the flu and its complications.
Please visit your urgent care center immediately if you are experiencing the following symptoms:
- High fever
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent cough or severe cough
- Persistent headaches or nasal congestion