Flu sometimes has symptoms that resemble common cold, and vice versa. Runny nose, sore throat, headache, dry cough and other symptoms are characteristic for both of these diseases. Because of that, it may be difficult to distinguish them from one another. However, since both are caused by viruses, the treatment will be similar and will not consist of antibiotics. This is because antibiotics only work for bacterial infections. Giving antibiotics to a person who has flu is not only absolutely useless, but also potentially harmful. Wrong usage of antibiotics can lead to resistance to these important medications and can also harm the delicate flora in the intestines, giving rise to conditions such as candida infection.
Considering all this, it is very important to distinguish bacterial from viral infections.
Flu is a viral infection. It is always caused by a virus and it does not respond to treatment with antibiotics. There are different types of flu virus, called influenza virus, but they all cause more or less the same symptoms. Those symptoms involve the upper respiratory tract and include runny or stuffy nose, headache, sore throat, cough, postnasal drip and such. Fever, chills and muscle ache are also common. Common cold is also caused by viruses. These are contagious diseases that are particularly common during cold seasons.
Influenza infections can be prevented with flu vaccines and with good personal hygiene.
Bacterial infections are a completely different thing from viral ones. Flu is not a bacterial infection, however, bacterial infections may sometimes be associated with flu. This happens if the virus weakens the immune response of the body so it becomes more susceptible to bacteria. Bacterial infections can come as secondary to flu, and some of the signs of such processes include persistent fever that increases instead of dropping and symptoms that do not go away after ten to fourteen days.
Some of the most common bacterial infections, especially those that can be confused with viral ones, like flu, are sinusitis, pneumonia and ear infections. Another common infection is strep throat, a form of throat inflammation caused by streptococcus bacteria.
Unlike viral infections, bacterial ones require the treatment with antibiotics. It is necessary to use right antibiotics too, because not all of them are suitable for all bacterial strains and types.
The best way to diagnose a bacterial infection is to do a complete blood test and culture, as well as urine culture. After the presence of the bacteria has been confirmed, it will be safe and effective to prescribe the antibiotics.