Like the name suggests, the common cold is very common. Most people have dealt with the fatigue, runny nose, headache, sneezing, and coughing associated with having a cold. However, many people are surprised to learn their cold is something more severe. Millions of people in the United States develop the flu each year. In addition, tens of thousands of people die from the flu each year. Due to these staggering statistics, understanding the symptoms of the flu is essential. With this guide, you will know if you are dealing with the common cold or a more severe sickness like the flu.
Symptoms Last a Long Time/Do Not Improve
The common cold usually causes discomfort for a maximum period of a week. If you are experiencing symptoms after a week or if your symptoms do not seem to be improving, visit your doctor to determine if you have something more serious.
Symptoms that do not improve after a few days and that seem more severe are most likely signs that you have the flu.
A cold may cause you to have a slight fever that can last up to a day or two. However, if your fever is at or over 102 degrees, you most likely have the flu.
When your body is fighting bacteria or a virus, your interior temperature increases, resulting in a fever. Of course, the fever causes more than a higher body temperature. You may experience sweating, an increased heart rate, and fatigue along with the fever.
Light aches and pains are common with the common cold, but severe body aches are most likely due to the flu.
If you have been dealing with a cold, you may think the achy muscles, joints, and bones are due to your fatigue. Unfortunately, the body aches are key signs that you are suffering with the flu virus.
You may experience aches in the following areas of your body when you have the flu:
- Upper Arms
Consider taking an over-the-counter ibuprofen to reduce these aches and pains, but make sure to consult your doctor to diagnose and treat the other symptoms of the flu virus.
Due to the buildup of excess mucus, the flu will cause you to cough in an attempt to loosen mucus for better breathing. Wheezing, difficulty breathing, and even a tight feeling in your chest may also occur due to this persistent coughing.
In some instances, patients with this persistent coughing due to the influenza virus may cough up phlegm, mucus, and even blood. If you are coughing up this phlegm, contact your doctor immediately, since a common cold or the flu can progress to dangerous conditions like pneumonia and bronchitis.
During the early days of the flu virus, your throat may feel somewhat itchy. This can be aggravating, so you may attempt to clear your throat repeatedly while you are sick. This clearing can irritate your throat even further, leading to pain and difficulty swallowing.
Also, the constant coughing to release mucus may help you breathe better, but it can also be damaging to your throat. For many people, this irritation leads to severe inflammation, pain, and swelling of the throat.
As the flu virus progresses, your sore throat will become increasingly worse. For many patients, the throat may swell up and completely close, decreasing your ability to swallow any food and beverages. This is not only painful, but it also prevents you from recovering efficiently. If your throat is irritating you, consider visiting your doctor to determine if you are dealing with a simple cold or the flu.
The influenza virus should be taken seriously. While you may think you have a simple cold, these signs are warnings that you may have a dangerous flu virus. If you're experiencing severe symptoms, visit an urgent care center like Premier Urgent Care Centers of California, Inc. for treatment.