Not everything that makes you feel crappy is the flu. Now that we’re in the cold-weather months and school is back in session, we are prone to getting colds as well as the flu. The flu is more than just a bad cold, since they are different critters; colds are separate critters called rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. Also, there are different symptoms for colds and flues.
Fever- You normally don’t get a fever with a cold, while a 100-degree-plus temperature is common with a flu bug. So, if you get out your trusty thermometer and it doesn’t crack triple-digits, you probably have a cold.
Aches and Pains- The flu is marked by headaches and other bad aches around the body; colds tend not to have as many aches.
Chills-Chills are more of a symptom of the flu.
Phlegm Fatale- A cold will produce a lot of mucus, producing chest congestion and stuffed-up sinuses; cold will produce coughs that will bring up plenty of mucus, while flu coughs are usually drier.
Speed- The flu tends to hit very quickly, within 3-6 hours, while cold symptoms are slower to manifest themselves. You may “think you have a cold” but you’ll know it when you get the flu.
Also, don’t confuse H1N1 with rotaviruses that are commonly called stomach flu or intestinal flu; rotaviruses cause vomiting and diarrhea rather than a dry cough and plenty of aches; if you’re “praying to the porcelain gods Rolf and Earl”, you probably have a rotavirus rather than the flu.
If you do have the flu, there isn’t much the doctor can do. Antibiotics don’t work on either colds or flues, since they are viruses rather than bacteria. You need antivirals to go after the flu, but those have higher side-effects than antibiotics and are generally reserved for very bad cases or people with poor immune systems.
There are a number of things that you can do, many of which are old-school disease treating tools. Drink plenty of liquids, which will give your system the tools needed to flush things out. Get plenty of rest, since your immune system is working overtime and needs to have all hands on deck to get rid of this nasty invader.
Lastly, stay home. Going to work or school runs the risk of giving your coworkers and classmates the same joy you’re going through, so tell your inner tough guy to get lost and stay put.