For most people, a cold is a minor annoyance that goes away within a few days. However, if you’re not feeling better after a few days, you might have the flu. Many flu symptoms are similar to a cold, so it’s important to know the differences and when to see a family doctor.
Viruses cause both colds and the flu, and many of the symptoms overlap. Both typically begin with a sore throat and progress to nasal congestion, a runny nose, coughing, body aches, and feeling tired and run down. You can expect to be sick for at least a week.
With the flu, the telltale sign is a fever lasting for at least 3 to five days. Although a mild fever of less than 101 degrees can sometimes occur with a cold, the flu typically causes a temperature of 102 degrees or higher for several days.
Headaches are also common with the flu, and unlike colds, the flu can cause vomiting and diarrhea—particularly in children. Nasal congestion, sneezing, and runny nose are also not as severe with the flu and may not be present at all with some strains of the virus. With the flu, you’ll also experience more severe body aches and fatigue—to the point where you may have trouble getting out of bed.
When to See a Family Doctor
Most healthy adults do not need to see a doctor for the flu. However, those with a compromised immune system, pregnant women, children, and seniors over 65 should visit a doctor immediately for flu symptoms. A prescription antiviral can reduce the severity and duration of your symptoms, as well as the risk of complications like pneumonia.
You should also visit if your fever does not improve within a few days. Because some of the symptoms of the flu can mimic other illnesses that require treatment, like strep throat or bronchitis, see the doctor to ensure you’re not misdiagnosing yourself.
Your family doctor may also recommend some over-the-counter medications to ease the discomfort of your symptoms. Taking decongestants and fever reducers and getting plenty of rest and fluids will help you heal faster.
If you’re experiencing flu symptoms, the family doctors at Fairbanks Clinic, Inc. can help you get better. With a visit to these compassionate and experienced professionals, you can get an accurate diagnosis and treatment to get back on your feet as quickly as possible. They’ve provided quality health care to the people of Alaska since 1932. To learn more about the practice and their services, visit them online, or call (907) 452-1761 to make an appointment.