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What’s the Difference Between Cold and Flu?

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

The flu can be a serious illness for older adults who are at greater risk for complications, including pneumonia and even death. When your aging relative has the flu, it may be necessary to keep a closer eye on them and perhaps even see the doctor. However, it’s not always easy to determine if a senior merely has a cold or the flu. Knowing the difference between the two can help you decide what kind of care is needed.

Cold and Flu Basics

Cold and flu are both respiratory illnesses. However, the viruses that cause them are different. Your older family member can catch a cold at any time of the year. The flu generally has a season, which is typically November through March. It is possible to get the flu in October and as late as May, though.

Colds aren’t usually as bad as the flu. A cold doesn’t usually result in any serious complications. Flu, though, can be more of a problem. Flu can lead to a bacterial infection, pneumonia, and can put your loved one in the hospital.

Symptoms of Cold and Flu

The symptoms of cold and flu are similar, so it’s not always easy to tell the difference. In fact, sometimes a doctor cannot tell the difference based on the symptoms and may need to run tests. Some symptoms that might help you tell what an older adult has are:

Onset: Colds start gradually while the onset of the flu is sudden.

Fever: People don’t usually have a fever with a cold but do with the flu.

Aches: Slight body aches might occur with the cold. Body aches are typical with the flu and may be worse.

Chills: The cold doesn’t typically cause chills while chills are common with the flu.

Fatigue and Weakness: This is not a usual symptom with colds, but usually happens with the flu.

Sneezing: Sneezing is common with colds, but unusual with the flu.

Coughing and Chest Discomfort: Mild or moderate coughing and chest discomfort may happen with a cold. They are common symptoms of the flu.

Stuffy Nose & Sore Throat: These are common symptoms with colds, but less common with the flu.

Headache: A cold will rarely cause headaches, but they are typical with the flu.

Regardless of whether your older family member has a cold or the flu, senior care can help you to take care of them so they feel better more quickly. A senior care provider can allow them to rest while taking care of things around the house, like dishes, cleaning, and laundry. Senior care providers can also ensure the older adult stays hydrated by bringing them water and warm drinks, which can soothe a sore throat and help ease congestion. In addition, a senior care provider can prepare meals for them to make certain your loved one keeps their strength up and feels better faster.

If you or an aging loved-one is considering Senior Care in Rahway, NJ or the surrounding areas please contact the caring staff at Perfect Touch Home Care Firm today! (908) 469-2701


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