It’s that magical time of year again! Cold and flu season! Aren’t we all so excited to be surrounded by sniffling, coughing, feverish co-workers and kids to eventually succumb to the same ailments? Of course not. And to top it off, women have to deal with light bladder leaks on top of trying to control their leaky nose. But dealing with seasonal sniffles and light bladder leaks is a bit easier than you think - well, as easy as having a cold could be.
So, What is a Cold Anyways?“Feeling under the weather”, “the sniffles”, “a cough”. We all know what those terms mean - a cold. But what even is a cold? According to the Mayo Clinic, the common cold is defined as, “A viral infection of your nose and throat (upper respiratory tract). Many types of viruses can cause a common cold.” While many kinds of viruses can cause you to feel icky, researchers believe that rhinoviruses are the most common culprit. These viruses enter the body through our mouths, eyes, and/or nose from others that are also sick. People that are contaminated with the virus can spread it through hand-to-hand contact, sharing utensils, coughing, sneezing, or sharing contaminated items. Once you become contaminated and touch your eyes, nose, or mouth you can pretty much bet you’ll get sick. A cold can stick around anywhere from around a week to 10 days, depending on your immune system and the intensity of symptoms and treatment. According to Healthline, if you have the following symptoms you may have fallen victim to the common cold. Nasal symptoms include:
- sinus pressure
- runny nose
- stuffy nose
- loss of smell or taste
- watery nasal secretions
- postnasal drip or drainage in the back of your throat
- watery eyes
- sore throat
- swollen lymph nodes
- fatigue or general tiredness
- body aches
- low-grade fever
- chest discomfort
- difficulty breathing deeply
Cold VS FluUnfortunately, our bodies are a tricky thing and show similar symptoms for different illnesses, making them harder to treat correctly and efficiently. The silver lining is that researchers have narrowed down and pinpointed the differences between the common cold and it’s much more aggressive and dangerous relative, the flu. Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is also caused by a virus. The CDC describes the flu as, “A contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.” While the common cold and the potentially fatal flu have similar symptoms, there are some key differences to take note of to know whether your cold is actually the flu.
- Flu symptoms come on suddenly while cold symptoms gradually come about.
- Symptoms like body aches, fever, chills, headaches, and chest discomfort are more commonly seen in patients with the flu.
- Symptoms like stuffy nose, sore throat, and sneezing are more commonly seen in those with a cold.