Considering how common they are, colds and flu are the subject of a great many misconceptions. Dr. Seth Feltheimer, an associate attending physician, and Patricia Ciminera, nurse practitioner at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, offer their insights and expertise on these sources of misery.
First, the differences: a cold is usually an upper respiratory tract infection with symptoms including a sore throat, head congestion, sinus pain, and low-grade fever. On the other hand, the flu is generally marked by a higher fever, a sore throat, a cough, and body aches. A common cold usually lasts two to three days while the flu usually takes a week or more to abate. Unlike colds, the flu can lead to more serious complications and even hospitalization, especially in high-risk individuals like asthmatics, people with compromised immune systems, and the elderly.
Now, on to the facts and the fallacies!
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Reviewed by Jason C. Baker, MD 11/13.
The best way to prevent a cold is to wash your hands.
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