Differences Between Allergic Cold & Common Cold & Seasonal Flu & Swine Flu

While the outbreak of swine flu has caused tens of deaths in the city, the fear of this is lot more. Cold and cough symptoms are so common that people get it during cold climate and when temperature or season change. Lakhs of people are assuming worst case situation when they get cold or cough. Keeping this in view, the following grid furnishes how swine flu differs from other common colds and allergies that can be easily differentiated and understood by an average individual. This article hopefully helps create some sanity.

CHARACTERISTICS ALLERGIC COLD COMMON COLD SEASONAL FLU SWINE FLU
OVERVIEW Allergic cold is caused by an overactive immune system where your body mistakes harmless substances like dust or pollen, animal dander, foods, and viruses It is a self-limited contagious illness that can be caused by different types of viruses and referred to as a viral upper respiratory tract infection Influenza may be caused by RNA viruses belonging to the Orthomxoviridae family Swine flu is caused by a family of viruses that are endemic to pigs. Subtypes of influenza A known as H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2 are the strains responsible for flu infection
DURATION OF INFECTION Days to months as long as you are exposed to the allergen 3-14 days Two – three weeks 3 – 4 weeks
TIME OF YEAR Any time of the year although the appearance of some allergens are seasonal Most often in the winter, but possible at any time In all seasons Any time in the year and being more contagious in winters
ONSET OF SYMPTOMS Symptoms can begin immediately after exposure to the allergen Symptoms take a few days to appear after infection with the virus Appears within 3 to 6 hours. Can infect others one day before symptoms develop and 5-7 days after symptoms appear Lasts for one day before symptoms appear, and then seven days while the individual has symptoms. It may be a longer period for children, Incubation period – 4 days
SYMPTOMS
COUGH Sometimes A hacking, mucus- producing cough is often present with a cold A dry and hacking cough is often present with the seasonal flu A non-mucus producing cough is usually present with H1N1 (referred to as dry cough)
CHILLS Chills are uncommon with a cold Chills are mild to moderate with the seasonal flu 60% of people who have H1N1 experience chills
ACHES Never present Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold Moderate body aches are common with the seasonal flu Severe aches and pains are common with H1N1
FEVER Never Rare Fever is common Fever usually present up to 101 degree F with H1N1 in 80% of all flu cases
FATIGUE Sometimes Lasts up to a few days Longs up to three weeks or even longer in people with chronic diseases Lasts up to three weeks and more
SORE THROAT Sometimes Commonly present Commonly present Not commonly present
RUNNY OR STUFFY NOSE Often present commonly present and typically resolves spontaneously within a week Runny nose is commonly present Stuffy nose is not common in H1N1
TIREDNESS Present Fairly mild with a cold Moderate due to lack of energy Moderate to severe
CHEST DISCOMFORT Sometimes Mild to moderate Moderate Often severe
HEAD ACHE Common Fairly uncommon Fairly common Very common present in 80% of cases
ITCHY, WATERY EYES Often rarely present present
SNEEZING Commonly present Commonly present Commonly present Not common
PNEUMONIA Occurs at severe cases Caused due to secondary infection by bacteria after the viral infection developing seizures leading to death if not treated immediately
OTHER CHARACTERISTICS
COMPLICATIONS – cSinus infection
– Asthma exacerbation
– Sinus infection
– Middle ear infection
– Asthma exacerbation
– Sinusitis, bronchitis
– Ear infection
– pneumonia can be life-threatening
– Respiratory illness
– Quick breathing
– persistent chest pain
– unusual skin discoloration
– diarrhea,
– Pneumonia due to bacterial secondary infection
MORTALITY RATE 0.001 2-20%
PREVENTION Avoid those things that you are allergic to such as
– Pollen
– House dust mites
– Mold
– Pet dander
– Cockroaches
– Wash your hands often with soap and water   – Avoid close contact with anyone with a cold – Wash hands often
– Avoid close contact with anyone who has flu symptoms
– Stay home if you’re sick
– Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently
– Used tissues while coughing and sneezing The used tissues should be trashed properly
– Avoid contact with others
– Reduce exposure within your household
TREATMENT (optional) -Antihistamines
– Nasal steroids
-Decongestants
– Antihistamines
– Decongestants  – Non steroidal, anti-inflammatory medicines
– Decongestants
– Pain relievers  – Fever reducers
– Anti-viral drugs such as Neuraminidase inhibitors and M2 protein inhibitors
Prescription drugs like Tamiflu or Relenza

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