The difference between cold and flu and other flu facts from Medical Mom

The difference between cold and flu and other flu facts from Medical Mom

Flu season!

I must admit when I first heard my due date for Tank I panicked thinking RSV/Flu season. (typical nurse!) Last time we went over RSV and it only makes sense to go over flu this week. When the flu hits your family it packs a huge punch. Some people vaccinate and others do not, I am not going to get into that but rather discuss the flu as a disease.

What is influenza?

It is a virus that can cause fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, dizziness, loss of appetite, tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny nose, nausea or vomiting, weakness, ear path2830-2-3pain, and diarrhea. (pretty nasty bug huh?!)

The flu can be broken down into two major parts: influenza A and influenza B. To be honest, the average person has no idea which one they have.  In order to know which type you do have, a doctor has to take swab of mucous from you and send it to a lab. They will check it under a microscope to determine if it’s A or B. The specific type of flu you have doesn’t matter much, as the treatment is the same.

Flu symptoms in children:

Children and toddlers can get hit hard by the flu. It is important to give any supportive care you can. Offer lots of fluids, humidified air, chicken soup, and lots of hugs and rest time.  Speak to your doctor about anything else you can give such as ibuprofen for aches and fevers. Sometimes, doctors suggest alternating between ibuprofen and acetaminophen to ease pain around the clock. There is an antiviral medication that can help, but it must be given at the first sign of symptoms and no later than 48 hours after onset of symptoms. It doesn’t always work well, though, on the average person.

Is the flu virus contagious?

It is a very contagious illness that can spread 1 day BEFORE symptoms show up and for as long as 5-7 days after. It is contagious from droplets (just like RSV) with sneezes, or coughs. These droplets can pass the germs onto surfaces, and they can live there for a long time before spreading to someone else.

How to tell if you have the flu or a cold:

The most common and easiest way to tell is to check for a temperature. A cold can produce a mild fever but the flu usually has a high fever 100-102, sometimes as high as 104. The headache, and muscle aches are slight with a cold and severe with the flu. The fatigue and weakness that occurs with a cold usually only last through the illness but the effects of the flu can take 2-3 weeks to regain strength. Sneezing and stuffy nose are big signs of a cold and only occasionally present with the flu.

How to prevent the spread

If you or any family members are showing signs of illness stay inside! Wash hands frequently and be sure to get plenty of rest. Try to avoid contact with elderly or other people that can spread the germ before symptoms present. That is how epidemics occur. People don’t know they are sick or they have a long to-do list and think they can go out for a short period of time. What they may not realize, is that they are still able to spread the germ.

Well there you have it. My idea of the flu from a mom that’s a nurse, nothing to replace calling your doctor! Stay tuned for next week as we discuss the stomach bug.

Is there anything you have questions about?  Anything you would like to know more about?


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