However, these two viral respiratory illnesses have some key differences. Knowing the distinctions can help you better determine which ailment you're dealing with so you can get the treatment you need — and ultimately feel better — sooner.
Cold Versus Flu Symptoms
Cold symptoms appear gradually and include sneezing, a runny nose, a sore throat, a mild to moderate cough and slight fatigue. Fever, aches, chills and headaches are much less common with a cold.
In comparison, flu symptoms arrive quickly and consist of fever (often 101 degrees Farenheit or higher), body aches, chills, coughing, congestion and fatigue. The flu is sometimes accompanied by headache and a sore throat.
Influenza is a more serious viral infection than the common cold and can lead to complications. The most common complication of influenza is a viral or bacterial pneumonia or lung infection. This can sometimes lead to hospitalization or even more serious outcomes. If you suspect you or your child has influenza, contact your doctor.
How Are the Cold and Flu Transmitted?
Both the cold and the flu are caused by viruses. The common cold is derived from multiple viruses, but the most prevalent virus is rhinovirus. The flu, however, is contracted from different types/strains of the influenza virus.
Viruses spread through the air, personal contact and bodily discharge, like saliva or respiratory fluids from coughing or sneezing. Both colds and flu are transmitted the same way. By taking the following measures, you can better arm yourself against both illnesses:
Another common and effective way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. About two weeks after the injection, influenza antibodies develop in the body and may prevent the development of the flu or reduce the severity of its symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu shot for anyone over the age of 6 months.
How Can You Treat the Cold and Flu?
Unfortunately, there is no magic cure to make the cold or flu disappear, but there are approaches that you can take to weaken the illnesses and speed up your recovery.
Consult a doctor. If you experience flu-like symptoms, visit your doctor or an urgent care clinic. An anti-viral medication can weaken the severity and duration of the illness, but it is most helpful if administered within the first 48 hours of flu symptoms.
Do not take an antibiotic. Since the cold and flu are not bacterial diseases, they cannot be treated with an antibiotic. Also, taking an antibiotic when it's not necessary can make you more prone to some illnesses.
Take over the counter fever reducers: Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to treat many of the common symptoms. These medications can reduce fever, sore throat, and body aches, chills and headaches that are common with the flu.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Both a cold and the flu can cause dehydration and drinking enough fluids is vital for recovery. High sugar beverages, like sports drinks or sodas, don't contain the necessary electrolytes to facilitate optimal hydration. Instead, drink water, hot or iced tea, coconut water or a rehydration solution like Pedialyte®, which has a small amount of glucose and key electrolytes such as sodium, chloride and potassium.
Get proper nutrition. Having a decreased appetite is common with the flu but getting key nutrients can help you keep your energy levels up and help you recover. You may not feel like eating fruits and vegetables when you're sick, so try to get them in other forms like soups or smoothies.
As you bounce back and your appetite returns, if you need additional nutritional support, a product like Ensure® Original help, as it comes loaded with 27 vitamins and minerals and 9 grams of protein per bottle.
Take time for rest. Staying at home and resting can stop you from further spreading the illness and allow your body the time it needs to heal. Keep in mind, you are most contagious in the first 24 hours of developing the cold or flu. Influenza is highly contagious, and you should stay home from work or school until you are fever free for 24 hours.
This year, by knowing the difference between cold and flu symptoms and how they're transmitted, you can be prepared to treat symptoms and know when to seek medical help.
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Diabetes Management After a COVID-19 Diagnosis
COVID-19 is uncharted territory for all of us. Even frontline healthcare workers are learning about the disease day by day as they care for others. Although much remains unknown about the novel coronavirus, we do know that it poses a higher risk of complications for those who have diabetes or another underlying health condition. Targeted nutrition may be able to help. Diabetes management and nutritional therapy can help you achieve good glycemic control, a key component to better overall health and improved outcomes after a COVID-19 diagnosis. But first, it's important to understand how the two conditions intersect. How Does COVID-19 Impact People With Diabetes? We know that hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, is associated with reduced immunity and poorer COVID-19 outcomes. For people with diabetes who are also in hospital, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends a target glucose range of 140–180 mg/dL for most patients. For those not in hospital, the ADA recommends a target A1c of 7%. Research into the relationship between diabetes and COVID-19 is ongoing, but data strongly suggests that glucose control is important following COVID-19 infection. CDC information suggests that about 28% of people in the US who are hospitalized with COVID-19 also have diabetes. The presence of hyperglycemia at admission in COVID-19 patients, not just those with diabetes, may be an indicator or worse outcomes. Practical recommendations for glucose control in COVID-19 suggest an A1c target of 7% or less. Poorly controlled diabetes (A1c > 7%) was associated with a greater risk of death from COVID-19. As we continue to learn more about transmission and prevention of COVID-19, managing blood sugar is key to better health outcomes, particularly for people with diabetes. Targeted nutrition is one way to help support those efforts. Why Is Nutrition Vital in Diabetes Management and COVID-19 Recovery? Regular diabetes management, as recommended by the ADA, includes medical nutritional therapy, which can help you achieve good glycemic control and includes personally optimizing carbohydrate intake and improving diet quality. Balanced nutrition will help manage blood sugar levels and keep blood sugar within normal ranges as well as provide the daily required nutrients, especially when you're ill. Eating smaller, regular meals and focusing on a balance of macro and micronutrients can help you manage your glucose both during times of illness and every single day. If you need additional nutritional support, consider adding a diabetes-specific formula (DSF) to your eating plan. Diabetes specific formulas, like Glucerna can help you manage your blood sugar. They also provide several key nutrients and health benefits, including: "Slow-release carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, which can help minimize the effect on blood sugar levels." "Monounsaturated fatty acids, which are associated with several health benefits." "Prebiotics and dietary fiber, which promote gastrointestinal health." "High-quality protein and other nutrients for immune system support, including antioxidants (selenium and vitamins C and E), vitamin D, vitamin A and zinc." The Look AHEAD study, has shown that meal replacements, including diabetes-specific formula, have improved outcomes versus standard lifestyle interventions. The enhanced weight loss1 was associated with improved glycemic outcomes2, blood pressure3 and reduced healthcare costs over 10 years4. Although there are still many unknowns surrounding COVID-19, one thing is certain: For people with diabetes, good nutrition is a key component of managing blood sugar following any diagnosis. Keeping your glucose in check is important for people with diabetes every day; incorporating DSFs to fill any nutrition gaps, or replace poor meal or snack choices, may help improve your overall health. 1 Look AHEAD Research Group, et al. Diabetes Care. 2007;30(6):1374–1383 2 Look AHEAD Research Group, et al. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(17):1566–1575 3 Wing RR, et al. Diabetes Care 2016;39(8):1345-55 4 Diabetes Care. 2014 Sep; 37(9): 2548–2556. doi: 10.2337/dc14-0093
How Healthcare Workers Can Help Their Immune System with Nutrition and Hydration
As the first line of defense against the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare staffers are putting in long hours to give people the medical attention they need. Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), including face shields or goggles, face masks, gowns and gloves, throughout their shifts helps them remain safe while tending to others. However, protective gear stays on for long stretches of time, which can make it difficult for essential workers to get enough food and water to safeguard their own health. So, when the action never seems to stop, how do doctors, nurses and other healthcare employees meet their nutrition and hydration needs? Here are the measures these workers are taking to stay healthy and strong, as well as how you can work these nutrition best practices into your daily routine.