Cold and Flu: What are the differences?

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- During this time of year more people are waking up with runny noses and an aching body, not to mention coughing.

Most people don't know whether they have a cold or the flu, and differentiating between the two is not easy.

"Generallywe see more cold cases, cold cases come in epidemics or come in spurtsthroughout the year whereas the flu is more in the winter time," said Dr. Darrell Ragland with St. Bernards First Care clinic.

And rightnow the flu season is at its peak.

"We areseeing many cases of flu, it's widespread in the community," Ragland said. "If you'rerunning a high fever and have a cough you are much more likely to have the fluthis time of year than a cold."

Both thecommon cold and flu have several similarities.

"They areboth caused by viruses, they both usually last 7 to 10 days and both usuallyresolve, however, the differences are the flu is a much more serious illness," Ragland explained.

Seriousenough to lead to pneumonia even death.

"Causingmuscle aches throughout the body, severe headaches, severe soar throat and cough,high fever in the 102 103 range," he said.

Whereas thecommon cold is more mild.

"With a coldyou don't run a high fever, although you may run a low grade fever, with a coldyou may have sneezing, sniffles, may have a mild headache but certainly not ahigh fever or a severe disease," Ragland said.

A cold canbe treated over the counter but if you develop flu-like symptoms you should seea doctor immediately.

"The flu canalso be treated with medications when started early enough, usually within thefirst 48 hours of symptoms," he said. "This isconsidered a severe flu season, we are seeing lots of hospitalizations, lots ofoffice visits, quite a bit of bit of second hand pneumonia, even some death havebeen reported."

Both thecommon cold and the flu are caused by viruses.  Ragland said fever and severity of symptomsare the key difference between the two.

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