Are you coughing and sneezing? Could be that you have a cold or the flu. But which of the two is it and does it really matter?Are you coughing and sneezing? Do you have a sore throat and a blocked or runny nose? Could be that you have a cold or the flu. But which of the two is it and does it really matter? The main differences between the common cold and flu. Unlike the common cold, which you can catch at any time of year, flu is more seasonal and you’re more likely to catch it between late autumn and early spring. Most cases are recorded during the winter months. It’s why flu is often referred to as seasonal and winter flu.
Both the common cold and flu are respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. The common cold is caused by approximately 200 types of virus. Approximately 60% are caused by the rhinovirus, which is most active during spring, summer and early autumn; 20% are caused by the coronavirus which is most active during winter and in early spring, and the other 20% are caused by unknown viruses.
Flu, or to give it its full name, Influenza; is caused by the flu virus of which there are 3 main strains; A, B and C.
The dangers to health posed by flu
The symptoms of flu are similar to those of the common cold, but they are usually far more severe. With flu, in additional to common cold symptoms, you’ll likely suffer from pain in the joints and muscles; you’ll probably run a higher temperature and will be severely fatigued.
Whereas the common cold does no lasting harm, the complications arising from influenza can cause hospitalisation and even death. If you’re fit and healthy, have a healthy immune system and are under the age of 65, it doesn’t generally matter one way or another if you have a cold or flu. You’ll recover from either in a matter of days.
Those most at risk from flu and its related complications
If you are more elderly, your immune system is compromised, and/or you suffer from asthma, diabetes or a heart condition, then it could matter a great deal. You’ll be more prone to developing a complication, the worst one of which is pneumonia.
To put the risk into perspective, according to the gov.uk website the numbers of deaths put down to flu related complications range from 4 to 14,000 per year; averaging out at approximately 8,000 per year.
Taking the flu test through Broadgate Clinic London Wall
If you’re in one of the risk groups, and are concerned you may have flu, you should see your GP immediately. If you live and/or work in London you can make use of the private, walk-in service we offer at Broadgate Clinic London Wall to enquire about the flu jab take a flu test. Our opening hours are:
Monday to Thursday 08:00 to 18:30
Friday 08:00 to 17:30
Should you wish to phone ahead to make a same-day (or later) appointment, the number to call is 020 7638 4330.