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Diagnosing the Cold and Flu

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Updated June 13, 2014

Diagnosing the Common Cold:

The common cold is, by definition, very common. Adults will suffer from two to four colds per year. Although the cold is caused by a virus and there is no cure, it is still the most common reason people go to the doctor.

However, if you know what the symptoms are and what to expect from a cold, there is no real reason to see a doctor. This is one illness that can you can usually diagnose yourself and treat at home.

All About the Common Cold
Symptoms of the Common Cold

Diagnosing the Flu:

Diagnosing the flu is not as simple as diagnosing a cold. If you feel like you do have the flu, it is probably worth a trip to the doctor. Your doctor can perform a quick flu test to be sure and may be able to prescribe antiviral medication if you are seen within the first 48 hours of the start of symptoms.

Recognizing the symptoms and knowing what to expect from the flu are essential if you want to get treatment. Find out all you need to know about the flu and call your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms.

All About the Flu
Flu Symptoms

When to See a Doctor:

Even if you know that you have a cold or the flu, the symptoms can sometimes get overwhelming. If you have one particular symptom that seems like it is worse than it should be, you may want to see a doctor.

Here you will find out when you should see a doctor based on what you are experiencing. Just find your symptom and see if your situation is on the list. It doesn't get any easier than that.

When to See a Doctor for:
Congestion
Cough
Headache
Fever
Sore Throat

Evaluate Your Cold and Flu Symptoms:

If you have a symptom that is bothering you and you can't figure out what might be causing it, this is the place to find out. Choose the symptom that is bothering you the most, and the step-by-step guides will walk you through what to look for, possible causes and treatment options.

Keep in mind that this list covers only common illnesses, so if your symptom is really out of the ordinary, it is probably something you should talk with your health care provider about.

Evaluate Your Congestion
Evaluate Your Cough
Evaluate Your Itching
Evaluate Your Fever

More:

What are the Cold and Flu?

Symptoms of the Cold and Flu

Treating the Cold and Flu

Preventing the Cold and Flu

Sources:

Common Cold, Symptoms. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases 27 Sep 2006. National Institutes of Health. 24 May 2007.

Flu, NIAID Fact Sheet. National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases 17 Nov 2006. 26 May 2007.

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