The common cold is more predominant in winter, and cold climates may be associated with a seasonal cold. If a person lives in an area where many people are infected with cold or flu viruses, that person will be more likely to contract the illness because the person is more exposed to the virus.
Other risk factors include:
- Age: infants and the elderly population are more prone to illness due to compromised immune systems (adults over 65 and children under 5)
- Exposure to allergens
- Weather and climate zones
- Weakened immune system
- Pregnant women
Colds and the flu are contagious and can be transmitted by sneezing, coughing, or touching a surface covered with germs.
The symptoms of common cold and flu are very much alike. Similar symptoms are:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Slight body aches or a mild headache
- Low-grade fever and/or chills
- Generally feeling unwell
These symptoms usually appear a day or two after exposure to a person with the virus. The symptoms of H1N1 (swine) flu are similar to other flu symptoms, but may be more likely to include gastrointestinal problems like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
The swine flu can be detected by collecting a sample of nasal discharge or a swab from the nose or throat. Flu A and B strains can frequently be detected by a simple test at your medical provider’s office.
The flu and common cold can cause serious complications if not treated promptly. Colds and flu, in some cases, can spread from the throat and nose to the ear, causing an ear infection. Acute ear infections are generally due to the common cold.
Cold and flu illnesses can also lead to sinuses inflammation, a condition that is called sinusitis.
Asthma worsens with flu and cold. Complications from cold and flu can lead to pneumonia or bronchitis.
People with underlying medical issues like heart disease and COPD are more prone to complications from the flu. In extreme cases, flu can lead to severe respiratory failure, pneumonia, and even seizures.
Influenza, including H1N1/Swine flu, normally does not require medicinal treatment until and unless it worsens. An infected person is advised to see a medical provider if symptoms get severe, or fail to resolve in a reasonable amount of time.
The major remedy for flu is to alleviate the symptoms at home by drinking lots of fluids, taking over-the-counter medicines, and resting. The patient should be mindful of not spreading their illness to other people.
The common cold is also normally treated at home by over-the-counter drugs, fluids and rest.
In case of urgent medical care assistance, AfterOurs Urgent Care offers immediate telemedicine services, where medical providers are available to offer assistance. Anyone who experiences signs and symptoms requiring urgent medical attention can simply book their appointment with AfterOurs Urgent Care to directly talk to an expert. If your medical issue is not appropriate for telemedicine, we will let you know and refer you to an in-person facility.
When to visit a doctor:
If you notice symptoms of the flu including runny nose, coughing, and chest congestion, you should see a medical practitioner to rule out serious infection. This will help guide treatment and reduce the spread of the disease.
Treatment for cold and flu is available at AfterOurs Urgent Care.