Cold or Flu: Recognizing the Differences

Apr 4, 2024 | Uncategorized

The term flu is often used colloquially to refer to flu-like infections but refers to common colds.

But the common cold has nothing to do with the real flu. It is usually caused by up to and over 30 different pathogens such as e.g. rhinoviruses and human seasonal coronaviruses.

Symptoms include a sore throat, runny nose and cough, and more rarely a high temperature or fever. There are generally no vaccines against cold viruses, unlike the real flu. Even if the symptoms are similar, the real flu is characterized by the sudden onset of malaise with fever, sore throat, and dry cough, accompanied by muscle aches, pain in the extremities, back pain, or headache. Patients feel very weak and in non-incidents, the symptoms last about 5 to 7 days.

The typical course of influenza can be seen to occur in only a third of the people who are infected. In the other third, the flu is milder and without fever, and in the third, it shows almost no signs of illness but can infect others. Serious, sometimes life-threatening complications from the flu pose a high risk, especially for people with underlying illnesses, pregnant women, and the elderly.

Pneumonia is considered the most common complication. Infections of this medium can also develop mainly in children. Rarely, some kind of inflammation of the brain or heart muscle may also occur. It is not possible to distinguish between the flu, COVID-19, or the common cold based on symptoms alone.

It is important that our doctors know who is circulating at that particular time and inform the population. For individuals at increased risk of severe disease progression, laboratory diagnoses for SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses are recommended in case of acute respiratory symptoms.