< Difference between common cold and flu >

Vladimir: Hello Doctor, how are you...ah...achoo!

Doctor: Did you catch a cold, Vladimir-san?

Vladimir: I may have, but I think I am alright.

Doctor: You'd better go see a doctor just in case to make sure it is not the flu, or influenza. Well then, why don't you come see me?

Vladimir: Is the flu different from a cold?

Doctor: Yes, they are caused by different viruses. A common cold is accompanied by symptoms like sore throat, runny nose, sneezes and coughs. You may have a fever, but it does not get as high as in the case of flu. There are no significant symptoms that affect your entire body. It is also rare that the common cold develops into serious conditions.
On the other hand, the flu normally causes a sudden high fever, around 38 degrees or above. You may feel your whole body is dull, or may have muscle pains or joint pains. Symptoms usually last for several days. It could often trigger other diseases or could develop into serious conditions. In such a case, it could be life-threatening for less-resistant people such as old people, babies and young children.

Vladimir: So the flu is a dangerous disease.

< Preventing from catching a flu >

Doctor: Influenza often spreads as a sudden epidemic. There have been outbreaks of the flu from which many people died. So it is very important to prevent ourselves from catching one.

Vladimir: How can I protect myself from getting the flu?.

Doctor: The best way is to get a flu shot before the flu season starts. Especially, senior citizens, young children, and those who are physically weak should get vaccinated as early as possible prior to the season.

Vladimir: I have not been vaccinated this year. What can I do then?

Doctor: You could catch the flu by inhaling airborne viruses released from infected people as they cough or sneeze. During the flu season, it is best to avoid going to crowded places and stay away from the source of flu viruses. When necessary, you may want to wear a surgical mask to avoid the infection.

Vladimir: Is there anything else that I should be careful in my daily life?

Doctor: Stay healthy and physically strong by getting a good rest and eating nutritious food. Since flu viruses are weak against humidity, it is also effective to run a humidifier in the room. And of course, you should wash your hands and gargle every time you come home from outside.

< If you catch the flu >

Vladimir: What should I do if I suspect that I might have caught the flu?

Doctor: You should go see a doctor as soon as possible. There are good medicines available today that effectively control the increasing activities of the viruses. The earlier you take them, the better they work. It could prolong your recovery if you wait too long to start the treatment.

Vladimir: I see. The earlier we see the doctor, the faster we get better.

Doctor: During your recovery, you should stay home and take a good rest. The key is to sleep well and drink lots of water.
You should also take prescribed medicines following instructions by medical professionals. Over-the-counter cold drugs may help ease fever, runny nose, or sinus congestion, but are not directly effective to suppress the activities of flu viruses.

Vladimir: Should I not go to work or school when I have the flu?

Doctor: Yes, so that you won't spread the flu viruses in public. Avoid going to busy, crowded places. It is to everybody's benefit including yourself that you stay home, take good care of yourself, and go back after you are well-recovered.

Vladimir: I see. I suppose I should check if I have the flu or a cold. Will you be available to see me today?

Doctor: Sure. I will see you in my office later then.

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