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Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of colds and flu

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of colds and flu

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of colds and flu

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of colds and flu

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The common cold and flu are two different conditions but have many clinical features in common. The features of the common cold are milder as compared with flu. Both colds and flu are short lasting infections of the upper respiratory tract and easily transmitted from person to person.

Incidence, age and sex

These respiratory infections are extremely common in the general population and may be seen in any age group. However, they are more common in both active and passive smokers.

Signs and symptoms

The clinical features common to both colds and flu are high temperature, runny nose, exhaustion and muscle ache. Individuals with common cold may exhibit other symptoms like headache, sore throat, sneezing or watering of eyes. The symptoms of flu are severe as compared to common cold and characterised by the sudden onset of high temperature with chills, increased sweating, persistent cough, loss of appetite and severe fatigue. Generally, no tests are required to establish the diagnosis of common cold or flu. However, some blood tests may be needed to rule out other infections, especially in individuals in whom clinical presentation is not clear.

Causes and prevention

These infections are exceedingly common in every society and caused by viruses which may belong to various species. Common cold and flu are air-borne infections and thus highly contagious. Influenza vaccination is advisable both in children and adults to prevent flu. Unfortunately, there seems to be no vaccine available for common cold. Preventive measures like frequent washing of hands and covering of mouth while coughing, may inhibit spreading of thus infection.

Complications

Such respiratory infections, if left untreated or encountered frequently in an individual, may result in sinusitis, acute bronchitis or may even exacerbate asthma. Moreover, common cold or flu may spread to the ear, especially in children and cause otitis media. Sometimes, secondary bacterial infections may affect the respiratory tract and lungs, resulting in a serious infection called pneumonia.

Submit a request for further information, a quotation or indicative cost. Your enquiry will be forwarded to up to 3 private healthcare providers. They will respond directly with further information.

Get a quote for colds and flu treatment >

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