While both the cold and flu are viruses, a cold is not as severe a virus as the flu. Both have similar symptoms, which include:
* Body aches.
* Stuffy/runny nose.
A cold should last no more than 3 to 4 days, where the flu will last between 7 and 10 days. However, some colds can last as long as the flu. The major difference between the two is that the symptoms of a cold are milder.
If your symptoms have lasted for longer than a few days and over-the-counter medicine isn’t working, you likely have the flu and will want to see a provider at urgent care or schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.
Those with other medical conditions, like diabetes, are also at a greater risk for the flu because viruses can affect multiple systems in your body, like your blood sugar. Those in high-risk groups should reach out to their doctor if they’re not feeling well.
The best way to prevent any infection, including the flu, is to wash your hands with soap and water. An alcohol-based gel or foam sanitizer will also kill most common viruses. If you have to sneeze, make sure you do it into your arm (the “Dracula sneeze”) instead of into your hand to prevent the spread of germs. As long as flu viruses are circulating in the community, it’s never too late to get your flu shot. Cone Health has an exceptional network of primary care providers and urgent care facilities throughout the area. If you are experiencing symptoms of the flu, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider or go to urgent care as soon as possible. Your primary care provider can also discuss well-being and healthy routines that will help prevent you from getting the flu.
Melissa Morgan, MSN, RN, is the senior system-wide director for infection prevention and sterile processing at Cone Health. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Winston-Salem State University and her master’s degree in nursing from Jacksonville University. She is a fellow with The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).