18 July 2008

SneezingInfluenza (commonly known as the flu) and colds are among the most common infections of the respiratory system. People often confuse the two, calling a bad cold the flu. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can be carried out, when needed to tell if a person has the flu.

There are some key differences between these two unwelcome visitors, even though they are both caused by viruses, and are both likely to occur during the winter months.

What is a Cold?
Colds are minor infections of the nose and throat caused by several different viruses.
  1. A cold may last for about one week, can be longer, especially in children, elderly people, and those in poor health.
  2. Adults get an average of two to four colds per year, mostly in winter or extremely season change.
  3. Colds are highly contagious. They most often spread when droplets of fluid that contain a cold virus are transferred by touch or inhaled.
  4. It cannot be treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, the only true treatment is to wait until has run it's course.
  5. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.
Cold Symptoms
Between one and three days after a cold virus enters the body, symptoms start developing, such as :
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Weakened senses of taste and smell
  • Scratchy throat
  • Cough
Infants and young children are more likely than adults and teens to develop a fever. Smokers usually have more severe symptoms than non-smokers.

Recognizing the symptoms of the common cold is important for a few reasons. If you realize what symptoms are bothering you the most, you will know which medications will help relieve them. You may also prevent unnecessary doctor visits if you know that you have a cold. Since your doctor cannot cure your cold, there is no reason to see the doctor unless your symptoms last longer than two weeks.

What is the Flu?Flu is similar to the common cold but the symptoms are usually much more severe. It can be very serious and even fatal, can lead to death. The flu is a virus called influenza. It cannot be treated with antibiotics, but may be prevented with a flu shot and new antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu, may help shorten the duration of the flu. If you can take Tamiflu or another antiviral flu medication within 48 hours of the start of symptoms, the flu may be shorter or less severe.

Flu Symptoms :
  • fever (usually high ± 1010 or above)
  • headache
  • extreme tiredness
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches
  • chills
  • stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults
Most people recover from the flu within one or two weeks, but others, especially the elderly, may feel weak for a long time even after other symptoms go away.


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