Serious flu or a "simple" cold - what's the difference?

Serious flu or a

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Symptoms of flu and cold are similar

Cough, runny nose, fever: it is not uncommon to catch an infection in wet and cold weather. Because the symptoms are similar, it is not entirely clear to some people whether they suffer from a "simple" cold or flu. Experts explain how the diseases differ.

Symptoms are similar

In the autumn and winter months, many people are sick - many think a harmless cold. But be careful: in the cold season, the flu is in high season. Since the symptoms are sometimes similar, the difference between cold and flu is not immediately clear to everyone. Dr. Johannes Schenkel, Medical Director of the Independent Patient Advice Service Germany (UPD), explains in a message how to tell the diseases apart and how to protect yourself.

Difference between flu and cold

“The flu (influenza) is a serious infection that is caused by the flu virus. In the early stages, it can give the appearance of a cold because the symptoms are similar, ”says Dr. Johannes Schenkel.

You can tell whether you have the flu or an influenza infection, among other things, by how quickly the symptoms develop, because a real flu occurs suddenly. In addition, the symptoms are usually more intense.

In addition, flu is different from a cold due to a long course of the disease. While flu usually lasts up to 14 days, a cold usually resolves after a week.

Symptoms of flu are high fever of over 38.5 degrees, which often lasts up to a week, sore throat, cough, severe headache, muscle and body aches, chills, and massive exhaustion.

Complications such as pneumonia can make things worse.

In contrast, a mild scratchy throat initially appears when you have a cold. The condition slowly worsens and the sufferer suffers from cough, a runny nose, possibly a slight fever and headache and body aches.

Increased risk of infection in the cold season

"The risk of infection is particularly high in the cold months because the flu viruses are easily spread in a variety of ways," explains the UPD medical director.

For example, transmission by droplet infection is possible. The viruses are spread by coughing, sneezing or speaking in the air and / or on surfaces and are absorbed by other people through the mucous membranes.

Flu viruses that stick to objects are picked up by touch and carried on. Thanks to the so-called smear infection, infection is still possible even after the transmitter has long left the room.

The viruses can also get on quickly through direct contact when shaking hands or kissing. As people spend more time indoors, especially in winter, this makes it easier to spread.

Reduce the risk of infection

In order to protect yourself from infection, it is generally a good idea to strengthen the immune system, to keep away from sick people and to wash your hands regularly.

In addition, one should not cough and sneeze in the hand, but in the crook of the arm or a handkerchief.

Sick people should avoid contact with other people, so as not to infect them.

In addition to such measures, there is another way to protect yourself against an influenza infection:

"A flu shot is generally a good idea, since vaccination can significantly reduce the risk of infection - by more than half," says Schenkel from the UPD.

Ultimately, everyone has to decide for themselves whether a flu vaccination makes sense. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Cold vs. Flu: Whats The Difference? (August 2022).