During the winter months, the phone rings constantly with people who have “the flu”. Except…they don’t. It's common to mistake the common cold with the flu and vice versa. Both of them can make us feel pretty lousy, but they're not the same thing. Do you know the difference between having a cold and having the flu?
The common cold (and boy is it common) develops gradually over several days and can start with a scratchy throat, sneezing and sniffles leading to congestion. Any fever present is mild (in adults). Coughing is generally hacking and can be moist due to congestion.
On the other hand, influenza often starts rather suddenly with fever (usually greater than 101 degrees F and lasting 3-4 days), headache and all over body aches (myalgia). People with the flu are often exhausted or fatigued. Coughing is usually dry and hacking and can last days or weeks after all other flu symptoms have passed.
Influenza or “the flu” is more of a systemic illness, meaning it affects your entire body, whereas a cold generally just affects the upper body. You can sometimes get a stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat with the flu, but it’s much more common with colds. The flu is more serious because it can lead to other problems, like pneumonia in susceptible adults and young children.
Influenza is caused by a virus. In general, viral illnesses will run their course without a trip to the doctor. Antibiotics don't work against viruses, so all your doctor can recommend to help you are pain medications, cough suppressants or an anti-pyretic (fever reducers). All of these are available without a prescription from your local drug store to help you deal with flu symptoms.
If you're suffering from cold or flu symptoms, you should also schedule a visit to your chiropractor. Chiropractic care doesn’t treat the virus directly, but rather boosts your body’s ability to fight the invaders. That’s why regular chiropractic care can reduce the frequency with which you get sick. When your body’s immune system is in peak condition, it can fight off minor intruders with ease.