Cold vs Flu
Protecting Yourself from Colds and Flu takes on new meaning for people diagnosed with lung disease. A cold, like the influenza (flu), is caused by a virus. The most common cold-causing virus is rhinovirus, which is responsible for between 10 and 40% of colds. The coronavirus is responsible for about 20% of cases, while the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and parainfluenza virus cause roughly 10% of colds. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), children miss about 22 million school days each year due to colds in the U.S.
Most colds last 7 to 10 days. If symptoms linger, you should consider calling your doctor. Colds sometimes lead to a bacterial infection in the lungs, sinuses, or ears. If that happens, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics, which will kill bacteria but cannot eliminate viruses. More severe symptoms, such as high fever or muscle aches, could indicate that you have the flu rather than a cold.
Influenza is more serious than a cold. You can catch flu at any time of year, though it’s especially common in winter, hence the moniker “seasonal flu.” Flu is caused by a group of viruses distinct from those that cause the common cold. The symptoms tend to start more suddenly, be more severe, and last longer. Some flu symptoms include:
- a body temperature higher than 100.4°F
- general aches and pains
- dry cough
Cold-like symptoms, such as nasal congestion, sneezing, and sore throat, can also be caused by flu. Unlike a cold, a flu can be so exhausting that it can send a person to bed for days.
Reduce the risk of catching or spreading flu with good hygiene practices. The most important is the simplest – washing hands regularly with soap and water. Here are a few additional measures you can take:
- Avoid touching the nose and mouth.
- Clean surfaces such as computer keyboards, phones and door handles at least once per day.
- Cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Place used tissues in the trash as soon as possible.
Sick people can reduce the spread of viruses by avoiding unnecessary contact with others, and staying home from work or school until they feel better. Consider getting a yearly flu shot. Flu shots are about 70 to 90 percent effective in protecting against the flu. Keep current with regular prescriptions for lung disease to manage symptoms that might arise from catching a cold or the flu.
If You Get Sick
For those otherwise fit and healthy, there is usually no need to see a doctor for flu-like symptoms. The best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm, and avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic liquids. Consider visiting your doctor if you are:
- 65 years of age or over
- Have a long-term medical condition – such as lung, heart, kidney, or neurological disease or diabetes.
- Suffering from a weakened immune system.
- Develop chest pain, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, or have a cough that produces blood.
- Your symptoms are getting worse over time or haven’t improved for 7-10 days.
It’s important to stay on your prescribed lung disease medications, such as bronchodilators or inhaled steroids. Also, check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter flu treatment. If your doctor approves, you might treat the body aches and fever associated with flu with over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Getting plenty of rest is also recommended for a quicker recovery.
When you start to feel better from your cold or flu, try to get back into your normal routine. Exercise and healthy diet will help improve breathing and general recovery. If you or a loved one suffers from lung disease and would like to learn more about how stem cell therapy might help you weather cold and flu seasons to come, contact us by calling (800) 729-3065 to learn whether you qualify for treatment.