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MDLIVE Your Cold and Flu Resource

MDLIVE, The Nation’s Largest Telehealth Network, treats thousands of cases of colds and the flu a year. Here is a cold and flu resource to help recognize symptoms; understand the differences, and find the best treatment so that you can feel better again.

Learning the difference between a cold and flu can help you get the right treatment quickly, recover faster, and prevent you from getting sick again. Watch the videos below for more cold and flu facts, tips, and advice.

cold or flu video

Symptom checker

When you begin to feel sick, more than likely your focused on doing what it takes to make you feel better, instead of pin-pointing the precise reason or diagnosis of what’s making you sick. This is especially true if it’s difficult to tell. Yet, It’s important to know if what you’re experiencing is a common cold or more serious influenza so that you can be correctly treated. Follow this guide to understand your symptoms.

the symptoms

Who is most at-risk for the Flu?

While it’s recommended (and encouraged by MDLIVE!) for everyone older than six months to obtain flu vaccination, the reality is that many don’t and, regardless, it isn’t foolproof. While recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60%, that statistic comes with an important caveat – the numbers are only that high during seasons when most available flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine.

That means those at higher risk from the Flu need always to be more careful. Major risk factors include:

  • All children under the age of five
  • All people aged older than 50 years
  • Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary, renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders
  • Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who are extremely obese

What causes a cold or flu?

Since many cold and flu symptoms are the same, it’s important to know the difference between the two to be able to treat them effectively and avoid them from developing into more serious and possibly chronic conditions.

The common cold

The common cold is a type of viral infection that affects the respiratory system – nose, mouth, sinuses, and lungs. Colds usually last about a week to 10 days, depending on the person and their overall health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states in many cases, the body fights to eliminate the infection without ever needing medical treatment.

One reason that a cold virus is successful at spreading among people is that an infected person is most contagious the day before they begin feeling symptoms. To prevent catching a cold, be vigilant about washing your hands, not touching your face, and avoid places where the virus may lurk. The cold virus can live outside the body for a few hours, which means that a person may pass a cold on to others by sharing glasses, plates, or touching surfaces. A cold is spread from one person to another through droplets or vapor when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or blows their nose. Mucus and saliva pass through the airways of another person, and the infection starts there.

The flu

The flu, like a common cold, is a respiratory illness that is difficult to tell apart by the symptoms. Although there is a flu season, which ranges from October to mid-May people can catch the flu all year round, again, making it easier to mistake for a cold. Unlike a common cold, the flu causes several deaths each year. The seriousness of the flu is why it’s essential to know the difference between the two, so you can visit a doctor who can prescribe medication if needed.

The flu spreads in the same way that a cold spreads, through contagious people sharing objects that have been infected by mucus and saliva. If you suspect that may have the flu or exposed to someone who has, it’s important to be aware of the symptom. There are ways to avoid getting the flu, one being a flu shot. According to the CDC. “While vaccine effectiveness (VE) can vary, recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine.”

Tips for staying healthy

the treatment

Still not sure if it’s a cold or flu?

Visit MDLIVE

MDLIVE’s friendly, board-certified doctors are revolutionizing remote access to quality healthcare. They are professionally trained to use virtual technology to diagnose and treat colds and the flu among other non-emergency conditions. The doctors are board-certified and have an average of 15 years of experience.

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Ivette Fajardo