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There is no mistaking that you are getting ill but is it a flu or a common cold? Many people mislabel colds as a flu, but a true flu can be quite severe. Here, we examine the differences between a flu and common cold.

Flu symptoms

I currently have a flu, so I'm able to tell you about its symptoms from very recent memory and what I am currently experiencing. The flu may start off with a headache and feelings of fatigue. You may well feel pains and aches in your joints and muscles before you start getting "can't get out of bed" kind of ill, though that will follow soon after. People with influenza will drift in and out of fevers, feeling hot and sweaty one minute and cold the next. Flu also often comes with a snotty, blocked nose and a cough it's this that makes people confuse the flu with a common cold quite often. My muscle pains are situated in my weak spots, which are my back, shoulders and hips. Yesterday, I felt too ill to get out of bed at all, thinking I would collapse every time I got up to go to the toilet.

The flu can be treated with antiviral medications, like Tamiflu, but only if treatment is started within 48 of onset. Failing that, recovery usually takes four to 10 days, depending on your immune system and whether you rest enough during your period of illness. Try drinking plenty of water, avoid seeing people where possible, and eat fresh fruit with vitamin C.

Could it be a cold?

A common cold is the most common infection around! It can make people feel pretty awful too. It comes with a snotty nose, coughing and sneezing, and very often a sore throat. People who have a cold may feel more tired than usual, but rarely feel the extreme exhaustion that the flu brings with it. All that blowing into a hanky may give you a headache, but you will not have a fever if you have a common cold. Joint and muscle pains are not cold symptoms either.

Unlike the flu, there is nothing that can be done to treat a cold, other than symptomatic treatment. You can use a spray against nasal congestion, drink water to keep those mucus membranes hydrated, and smear vaseline on your nose to prevent sore patches. Treatment for a sore throat may also be beneficial. Cold symptoms tend to go on for about a week, and many people still feel well enough to go to work or school when they have a cold.

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