Cold and Flu

You’ve got a sore throat, your body is aching, and you begin to feel feverish. Is this a cold? Or could it be the flu?

The common cold and the flu are contagious respiratory illnesses that share similar symptoms. While colds are generally mild and do not result in serious health problems, influenza can lead to serious, even life-threatening, complications.

The only way to truly know if you’re suffering from a cold or the flu is to be tested. Get a rapid flu test today at Maine Urgent Care in Topsham, and start feeling better sooner!

Cold vs. Flu Basics

Common Cold

Over 200 viruses can cause the common cold, but the rhinovirus is the most common culprit. Symptoms are generally mild, last from 7-10 days, and include:

  • Sore Throat
  • Runny or Stuffy Nose
  • Sneezing
  • Body Aches
  • Headache
  • Watery eyes

Cold infections can happen any time of the year, and are spread through the air and close personal contact. You can reduce your risk of catching a cold by washing your hands often, not touching your face, disinfecting surfaces, and staying away from people who are sick. There is no cure for a cold; the best medicine is lots of rest and plenty of fluids.

Woman Suffering From Cold and Flu Symptoms Lying In Bed With Tissue

Flu (Influenza)

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that is caused by influenza viruses. It occurs seasonally (October through May), and is spread through droplets in the air when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Flu symptoms can be mild to severe, and include:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills

Children and some adults may also experience vomiting and diarrhea.

When it comes to flu, young children, adults older than 65, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic illnesses are at a higher risk of developing serious complications. The best way to protect ourselves, and those more vulnerable, from the flu, is to get an annual flu shot!

If you do come down with the flu, our providers can prescribe an antiviral medication proven to lessen the severity and duration of your illness. When taken promptly, antivirals can reduce the time you are sick by 1-2 days, ease symptoms, and prevent serious complications, such as pneumonia.