Is it a Cold or the Flu? Understanding the Differences
It’s cold and flu season, and while both illnesses share some symptoms, it is the differences in their severity that can help you determine which one you have:
Fatigue - The flu usually hits with exhaustion that can last up to three weeks. You may feel tired when you have a cold, but you can generally carry on with your normal activities.
Fever - It’s rare to experience a fever with a cold, but it is a common flu symptom. Fevers with the flu can be high and persist for a few days.
Headache - While headaches occur rarely with colds, they are a common symptom of the flu.
Body aches - These are common with the flu and often severe, but they rarely occur with a cold.
Sore throat - A cold can include a sore throat but it is not a common flu symptom.
Tightness in the chest and/or cough - These symptoms tend to be mild to moderate with colds, but they can be severe with flu.
What to do if you suspect the flu
If you think you have the flu, contact your physician right away and ask if you should get an antiviral medication. They can help, but must be taken in the first couple of days to really be effective. Both colds and flu are caused by viruses so antibiotics are useless. See your physician if you have a high fever, experience difficulty breathing or if symptoms worsen.
Prevent the flu
It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine and they are widely available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older.
Understanding Congestive Heart Failure and How to Manage the Condition
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart cannot adequately pump oxygen through the body.
It is estimated that close to six million people in the United States have CHF and more than 650,000 are diagnosed each year.
CHF is caused by medical conditions or events that weaken the heart such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes and others.
Symptoms of CHF can vary in intensity and frequency and include:
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent cough or wheezing
- Swelling in the arms, ankles and feet
- Fatigue, weakness and/or dizziness
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Confusion or memory problems
- Nausea and/or lack of appetite
While some of the conditions that cause CHF cannot be reversed, CHF can be controlled with treatments that can manage symptoms and lifestyle changes that can improve quality of life:
- Have all medical conditions monitored by a health care team
- Carefully follow medication orders
- Quit smoking
- Be physically active
- Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
- Follow a heart-healthy diet
- Track fluid intake
- Monitor blood pressure
- Manage stress
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Less Daylight Can Lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression people experience at the same time of year, typically in the winter months. While the exact cause of SAD is unknown, many experts believe that what triggers this condition is the lack of exposure to sunlight.
Less daylight tends to interrupt the body’s natural clock (circadian rhythms) and disrupt wake/sleep cycles (in winter months, people tend to wake in the dark and darkness returns many hours before normal bedtimes). SAD is more common in people in northern regions where winter days are much shorter than those of other seasons.
As in other forms of depression, there are a range of symptoms associated with SAD that can vary in duration and severity. Common SAD symptoms include:
- Feelings of hopelessness or anxiety
- Weight gain
- Loss of interest in activities, hobbies and social opportunities
- Inability to concentrate
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms, evaluation by a physician is critical. While SAD is usually short-lived, people with depression of any kind should see a physician for treatment.
For mild cases of SAD, there are lifestyle changes that can help improve or alleviate symptoms:
- Get outdoors during the daytime, within two hours of waking is optimal. Exercise regularly.
- Bring as much sunlight indoors as possible. Open all blinds and curtains. Sit closer to windows at home and at work.
Make efforts to engage in social activities. See friends as often as possible