Flu Or Common Cold; What To Do When You Experience Symptoms? – 2024 Guide

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It’s that part of the year when it seems like everyone is sick and has runny nose and cough. Interestingly, most people have no clue how to differentiate between a common cold and flu, and correct identification can be useful in the form of treatment and protection of people you were in contact with. In a nutshell, flu and common cold have similar symptoms, but two different viruses cause them, and they have different levels of affection for the human body.

By knowing how to recognize the signs and what to do when they emerge, you are in advantage and have higher chances to overcome the disease faster.


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Flu or Influenza is caused by the virus that has the same name. There are many strains of the virus, and the main problem with it is its high level of mutation, meaning that it changes very fast, and this is why we have a new vaccine for flu every year. You might say, well, I got the vaccine, and I still got the flu.

Firstly, let’s see how the vaccine is made, in the lab, scientists do their research, and they have to make an assumption on which strain or strains will be most common in your country. Once they figure out that, they need to immobilize the virus and make it noninfective but still recognizable by your immune system as a threat. Once they manufacture the vaccine, you can get it at your health provider. Once injected, weakened virus is recognized by your immune system that produces compounds to defend itself.

Your body also remembers the invader. When you are again in contact with the same pathogen, the body will respond very fast in order to defend you before experiencing any symptoms at all.

The only reason you can get flu, even if you have got a flu shot, is if you come into contact with a strain of a virus that is different from the strain in the vaccine, and your body has not recognized it as something familiar.

Flu usually starts with nose problems, such as increased mucus that is running or making it hard to breathe, as the mucus runs down the back of the respiratory tract, couching can start as bodies way to expel the mucus out. As the body is trying to increase the chances of winning the fight against the virus, it will increase the bodily temperature.

Fighting the infection takes a lot of energy so that you will feel tired; muscle and joint pain are also widespread. Sometimes vomiting and diarrhea can be experienced, although they are not very common in adults.

Flu can cause some severe symptoms, so be alerted but not in a panic.

Common cold

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The common cold is, on the other hand, caused by Rhinovirus, and as the name says, it affects the nose and sinuses as the first spot of infection. There is no vaccine for this one since it is not as contagious as the flu, and it has milder symptoms.

It all starts from the nose, and the symptoms that are related to this part of the body emerge. The body’s first response to the infection is to increase the amount of mucus in the nose to flush out the intruder, making you feel like there’s a tap in there that is leaking. Besides, one of the primary reflexes kicks in, and you might experience sneezing and coughing to expel the virus from the body. These actions increase the likelihood of infecting others. Infection can migrate a bit lower, so sore throat is also possible.

When it comes to fever, it is present, but it is just slightly elevated. Due to this, and difficulties breathing due to congested nose, the headache might be experienced. Besides, fatigue and body aches are common.

What to do?

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Both flu and the common cold are highly infective, and you can be contagious even before you experience the first symptoms. This is very disturbing, and it is good to stay at home at some quarantine so that you can prevent spreading the virus to other people.

Here comes the tricky part.

You are sick and need a doctor, but by going to the doctor’s office, you can spread the virus to others. What’s even more concerning is that you have weakened the immune system since it is fighting an ongoing infection making you more susceptible to other diseases. So, what to do? Luckily, the internet is here. The expansion of it has led to improvements in the medical system. So, if you are experiencing symptoms mentioned above and you have elevated body temperature, be sure to contact a doctor, Yourdoctors.Online provides 24/7 online support and service with real doctors answering your questions.

Be sure to mention if you are experiencing fever that is higher than 101.3 F or 38.5 C and how long does it last. Any difficulties breathing must be reported as well as wheezing.

If your sore throat is preventing you from swallowing food and water, and it is constricting you in the sense of breathing. Be sure to mention all medications you are currently on and if you have some acute diseases such as asthma, emphysema, heart disease, or diabetes. Inform your doctor if you are pregnant of you might think you are.


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To prevent catching a cold, be sure to eat correctly, a diet that is composed of various vegetables and meat. It is a common misconception that vitamin C will help you not getting sick, but a lemonade once in a while is excellent. Reduction of contact with people showing signs of illness and avoidance of crowded places can help you decrease the chances of contracting the virus. Washing your hands with proper soap and running water for at least half of a minute will reduce the chances of having the illness on your hands.

Also, try not to touch your face, since this is a place of entrance for the viruses.


Flu and common cold infect an incredibly high number of people during the season. Flu is more prone to complications, so it is good to pay close attention to the development of the illness and contact a physician if in doubt. It would be best if you were taking enough fluids and have plenty of rest. Be aware that you can infect others and try to protect them. Prevention is the key to reducing the number of infected people during seasonal flu.