One of the downsides of every winter is the likelihood of getting some kind of winter illness–at least once–over the course of the season. While the age-old advice of “rest up” and “drink plenty of fluids” applies no matter what type of illness you have, sometimes a trip to the doctor’s office can help you feel better faster. Read on to learn how to differentiate between the cold, flu, and bronchitis, and what you should do if you suspect any of these winter illnesses.
A Nagging Cough
If you have a nagging cough that persists for more than a couple of days, it may not be attributable to a cold or flu–you may be suffering from bronchitis. Bronchitis is caused by a viral infection, where the mucous membranes in the bronchial tubes are inflamed. This can cause a painful cough and phlegm, as well as other symptoms. Many symptoms of bronchitis actually can seem like flu. When you’re already feeling ill from coughing and congestion, you may also have a slight fever, fatigue, shortness of breath, and muscle aches.
You should see a doctor if your cough does not improve after 10 days , you have chest pain with coughing or difficulty breathing, your cough is accompanied by unexplained weight loss, you’re wheezing or feel like you can’t breathe, or if there is blood in the mucus you cough up.
Cold and Flu Symptoms
The easiest way to know if you have a cold or the flu as opposed to bronchitis is the cough. While you may have a cough with a cold, and even with the flu, it’s not going to be the deep, painful chest cough associated with bronchitis. Winter cold symptoms may include runny nose, low-grade fever, fatigue, lack of appetite, restlessness, sore throat, and cough.
Flu symptoms are also very similar, but you’ll notice the symptoms may be stronger in severity. Also, you will have body and muscle aches associated with the flu. Flu may also bring with it vomiting and diarrhea. Just as with bronchitis, the common cold doesn’t require medical intervention or treatment, but if you believe you have the flu, you may want to consult with your doctor, especially if you’re immunocompromised, have young children, or are elderly.
Preventing Winter Illnesses
It may feel futile to try to dodge winter illnesses, but preventative measures can help keep bronchitis, the flu, and the common cold away. The best measure to prevent any communicable disease is to wash your hands often and thoroughly. If soap and water are not available, then hand sanitizer is an acceptable alternative to fight germs. Also, if you are very susceptible to catching colds and flus, wearing a surgical mask is a good idea. It is also an excellent way to ward off bronchitis.
When it comes to bronchitis specifically, avoiding cigarette smoke is one of the best ways to prevent illness. If you are a smoker yourself, speak with your doctor about finding the best course of treatment to kick the habit. If you have a winter illness that is worsening or persisting, or you feel ill and immediately need to see a physician, TrustCare offer many convenient locations with no appointment necessary. We can help you Feel Better Faster.