Tag Archives: influenza

6 Signs You May Have More Than ‘Just a Cold’

We all know a cold is no more serious than a miserable week of snots and sneezes courtesy of a viral bug. So, there’s no need to go to the doctor over a cold, right? Well, that depends. If it really is just a cold, you should be fine with plenty of R&R, some over-the-counter helpers and hot liquids, but what if there is something more serious at the heart of your symptoms? Several conditions that may require prescriptions can mimic cold symptoms, such as a sinus infection, bronchitis (which can be bacterial), pneumonia or the flu. Let’s take a look at some indicators that it may be time to see a doctor about your ‘cold’:

  1. Your sniffles just won’t let up – if your congestion has extended beyond 10 days and is accompanied by a severe headache, you may have a sinus or respiratory tract infection. Sinus infections that appear to be bacterial by nature require antibiotics. If the doctor suspects it is viral, he or she may wish to prescribe inhaled corticosteroids to help ease swelling or irritation of your sinuses.
  2. You have moderate joint or neck pain – Muscle and joint pain is more commonly associated with influenza than the cold. Influenza is more serious than the common cold and can even be life-threatening. Severe neck pain accompanied with cold-like symptoms could indicate another serious illness as well: bacterial meningitis. So, if you are experiencing unusual pain along with the cold, don’t mess around!
  3. You’ve had a dry or productive cough for weeks – A simple cold shouldn’t cause a cough any longer than a week or so. If you’ve been coughing or bringing up mucus for weeks, you could have bronchitis (which sometimes requires corticosteroids), influenza or even walking pneumonia. It is important to get a nagging cough checked out.
  4. Your mild fever has gotten worse – Sometimes a cold may cause a fever, but usually it is very mild and resolves quickly. If your mild fever has turned into a more serious one (103 or higher for adults), or it has been hanging around for more than 3 days, you should check in with the doc. A rising fever could indicate a flu, pneumonia, or an infection elsewhere in the body.
  5. You have stomach symptoms – Some people believe stomach upset can go along with the common cold, but a cold usually only involves the head and throat. If you’ve been having diarrhea or have been vomiting for several days, you should seek medical attention as you may have food poisoning, a type of influenza, or another underlying medical condition.
  6. Your symptoms are hanging on longer than 10 days – The bottom line is that cold symptoms should clear up in a week to 10 days, so if you’re still plagued by a sore throat, congestion or a cough any longer than a couple weeks, you should be medically assessed.

Since it is so easy for a ‘harmless cold’ to turn into something more serious, it’s a good thing that the doctor is only a video call away and always in! Thanks for visiting DocChat, we hope you’ll come back again soon.



QUIZ – What’s Your Flu IQ?

How much do you know about the differences between a cold and influenza? Let’s find out. Take a look at the statements below – are they true or false? Try to give the quiz a shot before looking at the answers below. You can write “T or F” for each number on a piece of paper and check your answers at the end. No scrolling down!

  1. The flu shot can actually give you the flu.
  2. Influenza is only a bad cold.
  3. 20-30% of people who are carrying and spreading the flu have no symptoms.
  4. Antibiotics can treat the flu.
  5. You can catch the flu more than once.
  6. You can’t tell where or when the flu will strike.
  7. The flu is spread via contaminated droplets from a sick person to a healthy one.




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  1. FALSE. The flu shot will not give you the flu but getting a flu shot annually will drastically reduce your chances of catching influenza, a serious illness. You may have some side effects such as general malaise, but it is not the same thing as having influenza. It is only your immune system responding to the vaccine.
  2. FALSE. Influenza is much more than just a cold. While both are contagious respiratory illnesses, colds are much more common and less serious, generally affecting the nasal passages, throat and sometimes producing a mild cough or stomach illness. The flu often causes much more intense symptoms and can morph into life-threatening pneumonia. Another difference is that a cold can strike any time of year whereas the flu generally follows a pattern, striking during ‘flu season’.
  3. TRUE. Most people believe the flu can only be transmitted when a person is showing symptoms or actively sick, but that is not true.
  4. FALSE. Antibiotics are powerless against the flu as it is a virus. However, it is important to seek medical attention if you have the flu and your symptoms change or linger. Pneumonia or another serious bacterial infection can develop as a complication of the flu, requiring antibiotics and potentially hospitalization.
  5. TRUE. You can catch the flu several times during your lifetime, however, usually not right away as the antibodies produced while fighting it off will still be present for a period of time which may help you avoid catching it again too soon after.
  6. FALSE. There is predictive technology available to help people keep track of where and when the flu will strike. It is not a 100% sure-thing, but it will certainly help you prepare!
  7. TRUE. A person who has the flu can spread contaminated droplets to a healthy person via human contact, sneezes or coughs, or by cross-contaminating surfaces.

We hope you got 8/8! Check out our quiz on depression next. Thanks for visiting DocChat! Our board-certified physicians are standing by 24/7/365 to assist you with any medical inquiries.

Why Get the Flu Shot?

Influenza is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness that should be treated as such. In the 2014-15 flu season, the CDC reported 128 pediatric deaths alone. While there seems to be much contention surrounding the issue of flu shots, the bottom line is that they drastically lower your chances of contracting a potentially life-threatening bout of influenza each year. Only you can make up your mind, but here are some of the facts that may help your decision:

10 Reasons To Get Your Annual Flu Shot

  1. It can help protect the vulnerable: those who are immunocompromised (such as AIDS patients), the elderly, those who are chronically ill, pregnant women and children are at much higher risk of catching infections or viruses including influenza. An annual flu shot helps those who need extra protection.
  2. It saves lives: Influenza not only results in severe illness but also causes thousands of deaths each year (predominantly among the elderly population). When yearly flu shots are utilized, it can drastically cut down on deadly cases of influenza.
  3. It can cut your risk of developing influenza by up to 77%.
  4. It may result in fewer life interruptions such as missed work, school or cancelled vacations or plans because of the flu.
  5. You may be saving others from the flu in the process because if you do not contract influenza, you can’t spread it to those around you.
  6. There are special options for certain groups such as Flublok for those with egg allergies (it does not contain egg protein), as well as a new FDA approved vaccine called Fluad developed specifically for the elderly.
  7. The flu vaccine formula is specially modified annually to include recent viral strains, increasing its effectiveness.
  8. It may protect mother and unborn baby from contracting the flu, which could have deadly consequences during pregnancy.
  9. Contrary to popular concern, the flu shot does not cause the flu, and side effects are usually minimal.
  10. It is quick and convenient. Most pharmacists are now certified to administer the flu vaccine, so you don’t have to spend hours waiting on your doctor.

Who Should Get it And Who Shouldn’t?

Who should:

  • The majority of people older than 6 months of age

Who shouldn’t:

  • Babies younger than 6 months of age
  • Those who have known allergies to any ingredients in the flu shot such as gelatin
  • Those who have had unusual side effects from previous flu shots
  • Anyone who has had Guillain-Barre syndrome in the past
  • Anyone who has been advised by a doctor not to have the flu shot

We hope you err on the side of caution this year when it comes to the flu! Thanks for visiting DocChat!