Like every year, cold and flu season is here. And while we encourage you to do everything possible to prepare yourself for the season to help you avoid the viruses that cause these seasonal ailments, sometimes they’re inevitable. In the last few years, we’ve discovered the importance of taking sickness seriously and doing our best to avoid spreading germs. But how can we avoid spreading germs if we don’t recognize the symptoms of the cold and flu?
We at The Haven at North Hills Senior Residence, a memory care community in Pittsburgh, want to arm you with as much knowledge as possible. That way you can both get the treatment you need when you feel under the weather, but also so you can recognize when it is best to stay in to help reduce the spread. See below for some of the most common symptoms of the cold and the flu, and how to differentiate the two!
Colds may be common, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t pesky! A cold will typically peak for 2-3 days, meaning your symptoms can start to appear before they hit their peak, and linger for a significant amount of time after. Typically a cold affects the upper respiratory tract, meaning your throat, nose, and sinuses. Symptoms can be similar to seasonal allergies, including itchy, watery eyes, sore throat, post-nasal drip, sneezing, cough, and a runny or stuffy nose. That said, unless you know you have seasonal allergies, it’s important to treat these symptoms like a cold in order to avoid spreading the virus.
Influenza cases should be taken seriously, particularly in seniors, as the flu can progress into a more serious infection. Also virus-based, the flu has many of the same symptoms as the common cold. Those can find themselves with a sore throat, runny nose, and cough. Though one of the bigger differentiators is a fever. Those with the flu may also experience chills, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, muscle pain or body aches, and fatigue. Sound familiar? These symptoms are also key identifiers with a COVID-19 infection, so it’s important to keep up with your vaccines for both. And of course, if you are feeling ill, test for both types of infection to properly identify the appropriate isolation period and treatment plan for your particular situation.
The main difference between the cold and the flu is the risk and severity of complications. Generally, a cold does not result in serious health issues like pneumonia or bacterial infections. The flu, however, can lead to more severe medical complications and unfortunately for some, require hospitalization or medical treatment.
Unsure of what you might be experiencing? It’s always great to brush up on the symptoms, and the CDC offers a great comparison of both the flu and COVID-19, as well as the cold. You can read more about the similarities and differences here and here.
This winter, take all precautions you can to avoid colds and the flu, but if you do come down with one or the other, keep these identifiers in mind. They can help you figure out exactly how to treat your illness, and avoid sharing it with others.
At The Haven at North Hills, we take extra precautions to keep our residents healthy all season long, including using air filtration systems and frequent cleaning and sanitizing. If you are interested in learning more about The Haven or would like to schedule a tour, please give us a call!
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