There’s nothing common about the common cold. In fact, “common cold” is actually a catch-all term for a variety of viral infections that cause sore or scratchy throats, headaches, congestion, coughs, sneezing and sometimes, fever.
Influenza, or ‘the flu,’ is even worse. Flu symptoms include body aches, fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and nasal congestion. “If you experience flu symptoms, don’t wait!” says Zunera Chaudry, MD, an urgent care physician with St. Luke’s Care Now – Clinton. “Contact your doctor as soon as possible. Your provider may prescribe an anti-viral medication specifically for flu, which can decrease the duration of the symptoms.”
So how do you catch a cold or the flu?
Viruses spread through tiny droplets in the air that are released when a sick person sneezes, coughs or blows their nose. You can get sick if you touch your nose, eyes or mouth after you have touched something contaminated by the virus. Viruses can live on most common objects for up to two days, and people are most contagious during the first two to three days of a cold. “A cold is most often not contagious after the first week,” says Dr. Chaudry. “People who have the flu may pass it on to others one day before symptoms start and up to seven days after getting sick, so they may spread the flu before they even know they have it.”
Avoid getting sick! Get a flu shot, and remember to wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth when sneezing and coughing to help limit spreading the virus to others. If you’re already sick and don’t want to or can’t leave the house, make it easy on yourself. Connect with a doctor online using the video visit feature in the St. Luke’s App. Available 24/7. No appointment. No waiting. Download the St. Luke’s App from Google Play or the App Store.