How to tell the difference between flu, cold or bronchitis

As temperatures drop, so do colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia, which are similar infections but have different characteristics and symptoms. Do you know how to tell the difference between a cold and the flu? Do you know when to go to the emergency room? The experts CuídatePlus consults provide you with the keys to knowing what to do in each situation.

All of these diseases are airborne and share a common set of symptoms, but they are completely different illnesses.

When it comes to influenza, influenza A, B, and C viruses are the culprits.It is a usually self-limiting disease characterized by well-known symptoms such as Fever, muscle aches, and respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, headache, and nasal congestion).Margarita Morales, nurse at the Spanish Association of Pneumonia and Thoracic Surgery, noted“Other less common symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea may occur, although this is more common in children.” If not controlled or treated promptly, “complications such as pneumonia, dehydration, or sinusitis may occur, or worsen chronic disease.”

Manuel LinaresA member of the Spanish Association of Primary Care Physicians (Semergen) explained that in influenza“The incubation period is 18 to 36 hours and is always cause very high fever HeadacheVery tight muscles, especially in the legs and back, and frequent coughing. Additionally, fatigue is high. “

In case of cold, Symptoms are usually mild. “Irritation, sneezing, runny nose, irritating dry cough and sore throat”, he pointed out to CuídatePlus Jose Miguel Rodriguez Gonzalez Moroboss Pulmonary Services, Prince of Asturias University Hospital.In this case, there are More than 200 different types of viruses can cause its symptoms.inside cold The incubation period is slightly longer than 48 to 72 hours, and “rFever rarely occurs” said Linares.

Cold, flu or bronchitis?

as pointed out Lorena Comesh Casanovafrom Pulmonary Services Chiron Salud University Hospital, Madrid, “The main symptoms of bronchitis are cough and sputum production.” Indeed, both colds and bronchitis can cause coughs, and it is important to distinguish them. “this “Bronchitis is the bronchi, a cold is the throat.”.

This is the main difference compared to the flu or cold. It must also be taken into account that, in either case, ” difficulty breathing or wheezing Breathing is an alarm symptom that tells us it is necessary to see a specialist.

What medication should be taken in each case?

Experts remember to deal with these infections No need for antibiotics: “These medications only work against bacteria; colds and flu are viral illnesses,” explains primary care physician Francisco Marin.

Thus, in For influenza, only drugs that improve the patient’s general condition are given. “Things like fever reducers, pain relievers, and cough suppressants for dry coughs,” Linares said.

And for him Colds, Marin points out treatments are very similar. Ibuprofen and painkillers, “although the most important thing is to be adequately hydrated to facilitate the elimination of nasal secretions.”

Medication for children

According to the Spanish Pediatric Association, a series of tips must be considered regarding the treatment of children:

  • If your child has a fever or other discomfort We can use antipyretics for a few days (paracetamol or ibuprofen). Remember that fever is good and using antipyretics to lower a fever is only recommended if your child is feeling uneasy.
  • When your nose is clogged with mucus, cleaning it with saline can help you breathe better. Repeat whenever necessary: ​​when going to bed, when you wake up, before eating or breastfeeding.
  • This can be suggested Keep you well hydrated. Provide him with age-appropriate fluids (water, broth, juice…).
  • If your home environment is very dry, you can use a humidifier for a short period of time. Moisturized air helps prevent mucus from thickening and helps lubricate the airways. However, it can be harmful to some children with bronchitis or asthma.

the most vulnerable

Although anyone can be affected by either process, there are exceptions to the rule of thumb.. In this context, it is known that certain groups are at higher risk of complications if they contract the virus:

  • Children under 5 years old
  • Adults over 65 years old
  • pregnant woman.
  • People with chronic diseases, Lung or neurological diseaseand obesity or people with weakened immune systems.

As for Cold can affect people of all agesalthough this also depends on each person’s immune system and our ability to fight the virus.

“Colds can occur year-round, but are more common during seasonal changes, especially as we enter the colder seasons. Given that external temperatures drop and our body’s local defenses decline, person-to-person transmission is very Easy,” Linares said.

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