What’s the difference between the cold and the flu?
There are several similarities between a cold and the flu, so it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate them based on symptoms alone. They are both common contagious viruses affecting the respiratory tract.
However, the virus responsible for each illness differs - a cold can be caused by several different viruses whilst the flu is caused strictly by influenza viruses. In addition, whilst there is some overlap in the symptoms of both infections, flu symptoms are typically more severe, appear more suddenly and take slightly longer to clear. While most people recover from both illnesses without requiring medical attention, the flu can sometimes have serious associated complications such as pneumonia and bacterial infections.
How are cold and flu viruses treated?
Often, colds and the flu will clear on their own without the need for medical attention. However, as the symptoms are often unpleasant, make you feel run-down and can be contagious, it is recommended you rest at home, keep warm and stay hydrated to reduce the likelihood of being dehydrated. If necessary, you can also take pain-relieving medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease symptoms and lower fevers.
To reduce the chances of spreading a cold or the flu, it is wise to regularly clean surfaces that you touch often, such as countertops, door handles and electronic equipment. You should also regularly wash your hands with soap and water, and make sure when coughing or sneezing that you use tissues to cover your nose and mouth.
What are the symptoms of a cold and flu?
Symptoms of both the cold and flu include:
- A blocked or runny nose
- Sore throat
When infected with the flu, you may also experience:
- Body aches and pains
- A dry, chesty cough
- A fever of 38°C or higher
What is Tamiflu?
Tamiflu is a flu medication used to treat and prevent influenza viruses. It contains the active ingredient oseltamivir, which belongs to a group of medications known as neuraminidase inhibitors. Tamiflu works by blocking the formation of the enzyme neuraminidase, which is required by the flu virus in order to spread across the respiratory tract. By inhibiting the enzyme’s formation, the virus is stopped from spreading, giving the immune system an opportunity to fight off the flu infection.