It is the feeling we all dread: waking up with that achy, feverish feeling while we sneeze and cough like crazy. The first thing that usually pops into your head is trying to determine whether it feels like a cold or the flu. If your symptoms are becoming extremely uncomfortable, visit your local CareNow for diagnosis and treatment.Find a CareNow® Urgent Care near you
Most people are contagious for a total of eight days when suffering from cold symptoms. The flu, on the other hand, can keep someone down for as many as two weeks. If you are suffering from either of these symptoms, it's smart to stay home for the length of your contagious-period. If you're unsure whether or not you're contagious, a doctor can help you determine where you are in the recovery process. Certain symptoms, such as a fever, can also indicate if you're contagious or not.
How Can You Tell The Difference Between A Cold And The Flu?
A cold, while still miserable, will usually only keep you down a few days, while the flu can keep you ill for weeks. Colds are extremely contagious and are transmitted by droplets of fluid that contain the cold virus. These droplets become airborne when an infected person sneezes, coughs or speaks. You contaminate yourself by inhaling these droplets or touching a surface that the viruses have landed on and then touching your eyes or nose. To prevent getting a cold, take these simple precautions:
- Avoid close contact with people who have a cold
- Wash your hands often
- Do not touch your nose, eyes or mouth
Flu symptoms are typically more intense than cold symptoms and can come on rather quickly. A cold usually begins as a sore throat, which will stick around for a couple days. Once the sore throat has subsided, a runny nose or congestion coupled with a cough will follow for another few days.
The flu, on the other hand, can also begin as a sore throat. However, a fever, muscle soreness and a headache usually accompany the sore throat, identifying the illness as the flu. The flu can bring about some additional symptoms and complications, including painful swallowing, a nagging cough and a persistent fever.
Antibiotics will not cure a cold. In fact, nothing can cure a cold except time. While there is no cure for either the common cold or the flu, there are a few things you can do to help prevent getting sick. Wash your hands often, get plenty of sleep each night and eat well to keep your immune system in peak condition.
However, self-care may help you reduce your discomfort. You may try over-the-counter (OTC) medications to relieve aches and fever or decrease congestion. You should also stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and smoke, get plenty of rest and possibly use a humidifier.
How Can You Tell The Difference Between A Cold And The Flu?
A flu shot can lower your chance of getting the flu. Hand washing can also prevent the flu, or any flu-like illness. Even if someone in your home has the flu, you can reduce your risk of getting sick by washing your hands. If soap and water are not available, hand sanitizers are the second-best choice.
Most importantly, when you have the flu, you need rest. And until your symptoms are gone, it is a good idea to not go back to your full activity level. You also need plenty of fluids and should avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
Work Sickness Best Practices
Studies show that 42% of those surveyed said their biggest pet peeve is when a co-worker comes into the office sick. If you feel under the weather, think how you would feel if you were in the shoes of your coworkers. Even if you believe you can handle working, it's probably best to stay home. It may actually help speed up your recovery time by taking a few days to rest.
Working in a cubicle, doesn’t mean that constant coughing and sniffling aren’t affecting the people working around you. These types of symptoms can distract and even infect coworkers in the vicinity. Remember these tips the next time you feel sick at work:
If you feel sick at work, do your entire office a favor and avoid too much interaction. Doing so will lessen the chances of others coming down with the same illness and we’re sure your coworkers will understand. A few ways to do this include:
- Phone into meetings
- Always cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing
- Throw away tissues
- Don’t linger in the break room
- Avoid others’ workspaces and handshakes
- Clean any community office supplies after use
- Keep away from water fountains
Everyone has a limit. Know when to call it a day. It’s also important to know when you are too sick to go into work. We highly recommend calling in sick if you are experiencing any of these common flu-symptoms:
- 100 degree Fahrenheit fever or feeling like you have a fever
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Wash your hands often and regularly
Wash your hands under warm running water with soap. Lather the soap in your hands for about 20 seconds, being sure to get areas like between your fingers, the backs of your hands, your wrists, and under your fingernails. To make it more fun for the kids, teach them to sing “Happy Birthday” twice in a row before they rinse the soap off their hands.
Rinse the soap off well and dry with a clean towel.
When soap and water isn’t available, use antibacterial hand sanitizer gel or wipes. Rub your hands together until the moisture of the gel or wipe evaporates. There is no need to use water.
When To Visit Your Doctor Or Your Local CareNow®
You should contact your doctor if you are at high risk for complications or if you experience any of the following difficulties:
- Your symptoms get worse
- Your symptoms last longer than two weeks
- After you feel better, you develop signs of a more serious problem like nausea, vomiting, high fever, shaking chills, chest pain or coughing with a thick mucus
- Shortness of breath
- Bluish coloring of the skin or lips
- Chest pain or pressure when breathing
Prevent your child from getting a viral illness this year by taking him or her to CareNow for immunizations. Also be sure to check in online to avoid the waiting room!Web Check-In®
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.