Not sure whether you have a cold or the flu? Distinguishing which illness you are experiencing can be very tricky with the naked eye alone. They share many similarities – the most significant being that they both target the same area of the body. Many people don’t know the differences between a cold and the flu, but learning about the difference between each can make a huge impact on knowing what treatment is best and getting better quickly. The specialists at any Southern California UrgentMed walk-in clinic can help.
Differences Between a Cold and the Flu
Both the “common cold” and the flu are infections of the upper respiratory tract and primarily affect the nose, ears, and throat. Additionally, both are considered to be among the most common illnesses that humans experience. This is where the similarities end.
Despite affecting the same parts of the body, these two illnesses are caused by different types of viruses, show varying degrees of symptoms, and distinct recovery behavior. Learn more about these common diseases and how to determine whether you have a cold or flu.
Cold Symptoms vs Flu Symptoms
Although both the cold and the flu are respiratory illnesses that share several symptoms, the severity of these ailments is often enough to distinguish which infection one has. The flu has a much more aggressive impact on the body than a cold and is more likely to lead to health complications such as pneumonia, and other health complications which can be fatal if left untreated.
Bodily aches are quite common with influenza but rarely a reason for concern. These aches occur during any sort of infection where white blood cells are sent to combat the bodily invaders, which inherently leaves muscles stiff and prone to pains. Although aches can occur during a cold, they are far less severe than with the flu and are unlikely to make daily activities more difficult, as is common with influenza.
Fever is a common symptom of both bacterial and viral infections and indicates that the body is fighting the disease. Essentially, the body is, via the hypothalamus, attempting to rid itself of the illness by increasing its body temperature. A fever may be accompanied by sweating, loss of appetite, weakness, dehydration, and chills.
Fevers are common occurrences with the flu but very rarely occur during bouts of a cold.
Colds that develop fevers often indicate that the cold has developed a complication or is another illness entirely. High temperatures of 104 degrees or higher are extremely dangerous, and a doctor near you should be sought out immediately.
Sneezing, Stuffy Nose & Sore Throat
Sneezing, congestion and an inflamed larynx are iconic symptoms of a cold. These symptoms may occasionally occur during a case of the flu, but will not result in a runny nose as colds often do, and are never the sole symptoms of the flu.
How Soon Do Symptoms Show?
One of the most notable differences between the cold and flu is the onset of symptoms. Cold symptoms can develop in as little as ten hours after contracting the virus, but those ailments appear gradually, while more manifestations of the illness may later follow.
Meanwhile, flu symptoms are full-blown and strike very suddenly. The influenza virus can take hold of the body in one or two days, causing a quick onslaught of severe symptoms such as fever, bodily aches, and fatigue. In some cases, individuals have attested to noticing exactly when they begin to feel like they have flu-like symptoms.
Cold & Flu Prevention
Both the cold and the flu have peak seasons during the winter. Unlike the flu, there is no vaccine for the common cold (The average adult is expected to contract two to three of these viral infections per year), and both viruses have no cure. Both diseases can be transmitted through the air and are highly contagious during the beginning stages of the disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent illnesses like colds and the flu.
Suffering From Symptoms and Need to Know if It’s the Cold or Flu? Come to UrgentMED Today
Take advantage of flu vaccinations. Protect yourself and your family during peak season and decrease your chances of getting infected. The 19 clinics that are part of the UrgentMED Network offer local flu vaccinations in the Southern California area with no appointment necessary. UrgentMED accepts a wide network of different insurance policies and guarantees affordable rates for individuals or families that are currently uninsured and need medical attention. If you suspect that you already have a cold or flu, doctors are on hand to provide a diagnosis seven days a week. Find a walk-in clinic near you and start feeling better today!
Flu viruses quickly evolve every year. Keep in mind that there isn’t one single virus, but many different strains and these viruses are so adaptable that the vaccine you had last year will likely not protect you against the strains going around this year.
When you get a flu vaccination, your immune system makes antibodies in order to protect your body from all the strains in the vaccine. It is as if your body received very specific instructions to fight one type of enemy, with all the knowledge of the weaknesses and strengths this enemy has. But these instructions, unfortunately, only work against this one very specific target. It will take your body approximately two weeks to learn these instructions for fighting the flu. Once your body has made these antibodies, you’re ready to fight the virus and you become immune to the effects of the flu. Currently, the most effective way to prevent getting the flu is getting vaccinated.
Who Should Get a Flu Shot?
It might surprise you to know that anyone over the age of 6 months is advised to get a flu shot. The flu vaccine is made differently for various age groups, so your doctor will need to ensure you take the right dose. The flu is a lot more serious that many people seem to think. It can kill thousands of people every year and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Close to a quarter of million people are hospitalized every year because of it. There really is no reason why you should suffer from the flu; most health insurance plans cover the cost and some pharmacies even give it for free. You might be wondering when to get a flu shot. Since it can take up to two weeks for the flu vaccine to become effective, it’s best to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Protection for You and Your Family
The flu virus spreads very quickly and can have an entire family sick within days. When you get a flu vaccination you are not only protecting yourself but your family as well since you will not be spreading it to them. There is a popular myth which says that getting the shot will make you sick. This is just not true; the flu vaccine is perfectly safe and will not make you ill.
Vaccines Are the First Step
Vaccines are your best line of defense. However not even the best defense is completely foolproof and you should always exercise caution. During flu season, it is a good idea to regularly wash your hands, especially before eating. Limit contact with people who are sick and avoid very crowded places if possible.
Let UrgentMED Take Care of You
If you do get the flu, the best thing you can do is seek a doctor’s guidance. This can be an in-and-out visit on your lunch break. With 16 locations all over Los Angeles, free parking on all locations, very affordable prices, and extended hours, UrgentMED is the perfect choice to take care of you.
We’re just a few weeks away from the biggest travel and socializing holiday season of the year. And you know what that means – we’ll come in close contact with lots of people, many of whom have bad colds or even worse – the flu. It’s not too late to protect yourself from this severe, highly infectious respiratory condition by getting a flu shot, and you can get one at the affordable clinics that make up the UrgentMED network.
The last flu season, which ran through to the end of March 2018, was brutal and one of the longest in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year on average, between 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu. Of those, tens of thousands are hospitalized, and thousands die from flu-related illness. No age group is immune.
There are a number of flu shot myths out there. Here are three misconceptions that will help to put your mind at ease.
Flu Shot Misconception #1: The Flu Shot Gives You the Flu
This has to be the biggest misconception in the group. Can a flu shot give you the flu? No – the flu shot does NOT give you the flu. The main reason being the flu vaccines are made from an inactivated vaccine.
Are there side effects from a flu vaccine? Yes, there can be. Some people report soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling at the site of your shot, headache, a low-grade fever, muscle aches, and nausea. But these side effects pale in comparison to the severe symptoms caused by the actual flu. If you’ve ever had the flu, you can relate.
If you do experience flu-like symptoms after you get a vaccine – this could mean that you may have already been exposed to influenza viruses (which cause the flu) before you were vaccinated. Something else to keep in mind – it takes about two weeks after your vaccination, for the body to develop immune protection, and you may have been exposed during that period.
Flu Shot Misconception #2: The Flu Shot Doesn’t Work
Yet another big misconception or flu shot myth is that the flu shot does not work. It’s true that vaccine effectiveness varies. It depends on the flu season and personal considerations: your age and overall health. But recent studies show that getting a flu vaccine reduces your chances of getting the flu by between 40 percent and 60 percent. According to the CDC, getting a flu vaccination is the single best way to protect yourself against the flu, each year. To use a cliché: better safe than sorry.
Flu Shot Misconception #3: I Don’t Need to Get a Flu Shot Every Year
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get an annual flu shot. Yes, annual. Every year. Each flu season is different, and last year’s vaccines may not protect you against the next year’s strains. Plus, antibody levels decline over time, making it even more important for you to get a flu shot every year.
It’s Not Too Late to Get a Flu Shot
The CDC recommends we get vaccinated by the end of October of each year before flu season begins. And while we’re obviously past that point, it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine. Even if you get the vaccine later – into January and beyond – it’s still beneficial. But the earlier, the better.
Hopefully, our guide cleared up any myths you may have had about flu shots. Be sure and visit an UrgentMED to get a flu shot and other vaccinations, where you can also pick up prescription and non-prescription medications and medical supplies.
The affordable clinics that make up the UrgentMED network provide fast and affordable emergency care, and with 15 locations, we’re conveniently located near you. UrgentMED is the largest comprehensive urgent care network in Southern California. We look forward to helping you stay on a healthy track.
We’ve all been told to get our flu shots and for good reason: over the past few years, the influenza vaccine has prevented millions of flu cases and tens of thousands of related hospitalizations. Even so, around half of the country still isn’t getting vaccinated. This is a problem because there are many reasons why you should get your flu shot.
The problem with choosing not to get a flu shot is that this affects more than just those who aren’t getting their vaccinations. While the vaccine isn’t perfect, and it doesn’t guarantee 100 percent that you won’t get influenza, it is still your best bet for fighting the flu. If you’re still not convinced, here are the top six reasons why you should get your flu shot.
You Can Spread the Flu Even If You Don’t Get Sick
According to Harvard School of Public Health, 25 percent of people who carry the influenza virus never experience flu-like symptoms. Yet, even if you are not feeling ill or looking sick, it’s still contagious. Even the healthiest, most athletic individuals are at risk of catching the flu due to simple proximity to others. A major reason for this paradoxical logic is that healthy people sometimes have strong enough immune systems to suppress flu symptoms, while still actively carrying the flu. They can then go about their day spreading the virus without even realizing it because they aren’t visibly sick to themselves or others. You can spread the virus while you’re at the gym, doing errands, eating out at a restaurant, school or work and either way you are potentially putting others at risk. The bottom line here is that you simply need to get vaccinated.
It Can Reduce Symptoms’ Severity
Year to year, extensive research is done to ensure that the flu shot is highly effective and is protecting you from several of the most common types that year. If by chance you contract the illness even after being vaccinated, many studies have found that even if you contract the disease, receiving the flu shot can lessen symptoms considerably, making the sickness shorter and more manageable.
Side-Effects Are Mild to Nonexistent
There are a few possible side effects from the vaccine, such as headache, stuffy nose or sore throat. While many people experience no side effects, if you do, they should only last for a day or so. Considering that the flu itself typically lasts for one to two weeks and the symptoms can be severe, the flu shot is a better alternative.
It Is Available Everywhere
It’s easier than ever to find a flu vaccine. You can get it done at your doctor’s office or most major pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens. So not only do you not have to see your doctor, you don’t even have to go someplace that you’re not going anyway. Be warned that most vaccines have trace amounts of egg protein in them, so if you’re severely allergic talk to your doctor. If you want to get vaccinated or are feeling like you might have the flu do not hesitate to stop by one of our UrgentMed clinics today.
It Is Cheap
Virtually all public and private health insurance plans cover the flu vaccine. This is especially true now since the Affordable Care Act has made it so many more people get insurance. And most of these insurance policies cover the flu vaccines so, there’s no excuse! If you’re uninsured and have to pay out-of-pocket, it’ll probably only cost you around $30.
It Might Save You From a Heart Attack
It is surprisingly true. Those who are vaccinated are 36 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke within the next year than those who weren’t vaccinated. Influenza can cause inflammation throughout your body. This, in turn, can cause plaque build-up in your arteries which may form dangerous blood clots that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Get Your Flu Shot at UrgentMED Today
One of the best ways to stave off a dire health situation is identifying it before it happens. Visit us online to find an UrgentMED location near you. Come visit one of our 18 convenient locations throughout Southern California to ensure you’ll be protected with a flu shot.