What’s the Difference Between a Cold & the Flu?

Your body requires some time to adjust as the seasons change, leaving you vulnerable to encountering viruses and other illnesses common in colder weather. The cold and flu are two of the most common diseases and are both highly contagious, quickly making their way through enclosed locations like your office, school or home. While some of their symptoms may overlap, knowing the key differences between the viruses can be critical to getting the right treatment and preventing potential complications from arising, requiring emergency treatment. 

How to tell if you have a cold

If you have a cold, symptoms tend to appear gradually over a couple of days and can resolve itself in about two weeks. While most colds can be treated at home with rest, fluids and over-the-counter medications, more serious cases may require a trip to urgent care to be seen by a doctor. Common symptoms of a cold include:

  • Stuffed and/or runny nose
  • Sore or scratchy throat
  • Chest and throat congestion
  • Mild to moderate headache
  • Sneezing, coughing, wheezing

A fever may develop during the course of your cold. If you develop a fever, make sure to drink plenty of fluids including water, soups, juices and electrolyte-filled sports drinks in order to stay hydrated and get necessary nutrients. If you have a fever that has not broken in up to five days and is over 100.4 F, visit AFC Urgent Care for immediate examination, diagnosis and treatment

Common symptoms of influenza

The flu is in season from the beginning of fall through the end of spring, peaking sometime between January and March. The virus primarily affects the upper respiratory system, which can result in complications in high-risk patients including young children, the elderly, pregnant women and patients with weakened or compromised immune systems or chronic conditions. Chronic conditions include asthma, heart or lung disease, and diabetes. Complications can cause long-term health problems. If you begin to exhibit symptoms of the flu and are considered high-risk, you should visit AFC Urgent Care Cheltenham immediately for treatment:

  • Persistent, high fever (over 100.4 F)
  • Chills and sweats
  • Chest and throat congestion
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Head and full body aches

The flu virus, unlike many common fall and winter illnesses, is easily preventable by getting an annual flu shot. The vaccination is effective for about six months, giving you protection for most of flu season, and is developed each year to match the current strains of the virus. However, getting the flu shot early can be critical to avoiding exposure: the vaccine takes about two weeks to become effective, during which time you may develop symptoms if you contract the virus. 

Flu Shots & Illness Treatment in Cheltenham & Wyncote, PA

If you develop symptoms of the cold or flu or are interested in getting an annual flu shot, visit AFC Urgent Care Cheltenham today. Our center is open seven days a week, with walk-in patients accepted during our extended evening and weekend hours. For an even quicker visit, you can reserve your spot in line! For questions, please call 215-935-6777.