Do You Have the Flu or a Cold?

Jan 10, 2013Clinical Trial, Vaccines

Many people confuse the adult flu with the common cold. Although it may be difficult or impossible to differentiate the two, the adult flu is commonly more severe. It often comes on more suddenly and will cause intense tiredness. You will experience a runny or stuffy nose with a cold, but the adult flu causes higher fevers, dry cough, aches, and extreme fatigue.

What is the adult flu?

Caused by the influenza virus, the adult flu is an acute infection of the nose and throat’s airway tract; it can spread to the lungs in severe cases. Commonly confused with the stomach flu, which is associated with vomiting and diarrhea, the flu affects the respiratory system.

Every year up to 20% of Americans will become infected by the flu, most of whom will become sick between the months of November and March. Over 200,000 are admitted to the hospital each year with flu symptoms—anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 will die from flu complications. Individuals over the age of 65 are at the greatest risk for flu-related death.

What are the symptoms of the adult flu?

  • Dry cough
  • Headache
  • Fever (usually high)
  • Watery eyes
  • Severe aches in joints, muscles, and around the eyes
  • Ill appearance with warm, flushed skin
  • Sore throat and watery discharge from the nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

What causes the adult flu?

The adult flu is caused by the influenza virus, of which there are three types (A, B, and C). Influenza types A and B are responsible for large-spread epidemics and cause the onset of more severe symptoms.

Influenza is a highly contagious disease that is spread by direct contact with an infected person’s secretions or from inhaling water droplets in the air when an infected person has coughed or sneezed.  Kissing, shaking hands, and sharing utensils are just some of the ways the adult flu is spread. An infected person is contagious for seven days after the illness’s onset.

How do you treat the adult flu?

Some cases of the adult flu can be treated at home with over-the-counter fever medication and expectorants. Also, plenty of rest and fluids are needed to recover from the flu. More severe cases of the flu may be treated with antivirals or, if the flu has spread to the lungs, steroids. Individuals who are at high risk due to pregnancy, chronic organ diseases, advanced age, or HIV/AIDs are encouraged to consult a doctor if they become infected. Individuals who are sick for longer than ten days, or do not find relief after seven days, should also see a physician.

Hospital care is needed for severe complications: dehydration, difficulty breathing, turning blue, worsening fever, and coughing up blood in mucus.

How do you prevent the adult flu?

The best way to prevent the flu is to get an influenza vaccination. Today there are two types of flu vaccinations: a flu shot or a flu mist. High-risk individuals (the elderly, those with chronic health problems, healthcare professionals) are especially encouraged to get the flu vaccine. The chances of getting the flu may also be decreased by washing hands frequently, avoiding touching the mouth and eyes, not sharing personal items, and avoiding people infected with the flu.

JBR Clinical Research is conducting a clinical trial an Influenza Vaccine.  If you would be interested in participating in this Utah clinical study, please call 801-261-2000.

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