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Cold and Flu- How do I tell what’s what?

by in Conditions We Treat, Medical Care August 26, 2015

How many of us have ever woken up and thought, “Man, I feel awful today. I wonder if I should go to the doctor any get checked out.” Then thought, “I don’t have time to go to the doctor. Maybe I will just GOOGLE my symptoms.”

We provide a true walk-in clinic where we see patients when they need to be seen with little to no wait. PLEASE, PLEASE do not Google! There are people that show up in my office thinking they have cancer when, in reality, they have a cold. Now that is out of the way, let’s break down the symptoms, differences, and similarities of cold and flu, what you can do to help yourself, and when you should come to see the doctor.


Symptoms of cold and flu are similar sometimes making them very difficult to distinguish without seeing a doctor. According for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu symptoms are more intense but usually last for a shorter period of time making it crucial to get in and get the flu test early for the highest accuracy in diagnosis. Usual flu symptoms include: fever, body aches, extreme fatigue whereas cold symptoms are mild like low grade fever (99.0-100.9), stuffy nose, some fatigue.

  1. If you think you may have the flu, get in to see us early for testing! The first 24 hours is crucial to flu diagnosis and treatment. This is when we prescribe medication to help shorten the period flu symptoms are present. Both colds and the flu are viruses, meaning antibiotics cannot treat either of them.
  2. You can treat the symptoms by some over the counter remedies like Tylenol cold and flu, however, only take these medications as recommended by a doctor because they can affect other medications that you may be taking. Saline rinses mixed with sterile water are a great natural remedy for cold and flu congestion. Hot honey or lemon tea can help with throat irritation. Cough drops or any hard candy are good for the dry cough and throat irritation. Drinking 80-100 ounces of water is crucial to stay hydrated and to keep symptoms at bay. Try to rest as much as possible.
  3. Be sure to go through your home and clean frequently touched surfaces. Think: refrigerator, remote controls, toilet handles, and door knobs, wash sheets, and change that toothbrush when feeling better. This can help prevent the spread of the cold and flu virus to others in the home or giving it back to yourself!
  4. If you feel well enough to go to work, be sure to inform your employer beforehand. If you work in a large office, it might not be ideal for other employees to catch your cold or flu. Some employers might be happy for you to go to work, they might just try and find a good janitorial cleaning company to give the office a regular clean to try and keep germs at bay. Employers may want to Read more about finding a good janitorial service here.

Contact our office at 865-691-3155 for more information about scheduling and walk-ins. We will help you get back on the road to health in no time!

-Written by Jessica Cantwell, FNP-BC