Basically, you’re right. The available treatment (Tamiflu) is not very effective and, at that, only works if given early.
Many people with influenza note what you did - that they are ‘not right’ for a long time, often months, afterward. The usual explanation for this is to invoke the term cytokines while waving your hands about.
ETA: I agree with you - a “cold” is not influenza; not by a long shot
I would just like to say that my experience with Tamiflu was like angels from heaven. I started getting sick a day and a half before going to the ER. I was crashing fast and was no place to do anything about it. By the time I made it to the ER, I was dehydrated and very sick. The doctor did a flu swab and diagnosed the flu. I started taking Tamiflu that night and in 24 hours I was barely sick at all.
My experience may be anomalous, but it was pretty phenomenal.
That’s actually quite true (except for the fever the OP mentioned)… in college, my roommates and I went through about 2 months of feeling lousy all the time, when we arrived back at college in our crappy apartment, right after Christmas, and all the way until spring break. All 3 of us sought medical help, nobody came up with anything.
After spring break, we all felt much better. We figured we just needed a week to decompress.
10 years later, I stumbled across an article about low-level CO poisoning… and had a lightbulb-over-the-head moment. The misery started right after we tried to patch up some of the wind-tunnel-sized gaps around the windows and doors. It stopped right about the time we quit using the furnace.
I suspect this is not the case with the OP, but good comment!
Yeah - not much they can do, except for secondary stuff (e.g. treating related asthma flares and if needed, antibiotics for secondary infections). Possibly someone with, say, heart problems might need adjustment in their meds or something.
Well, actually, I suppose they could prescribe lethal doses of something to put you out of your misery (and in full-on influenza, you might be begging them to do so). But the professional organizations seem to frown on this ;).
For the most part, barring getting diagnosed in time to take Tamiflu or whatever, they’d just prescribe the same stuff you can do at home: fluids, rest, painkillers for fever/aches.
I was reacting to your apparent suggestion that, in addition to the “famous ones”, there have been many other flu subtypes with “major periods of population infection”, many of which have not been identified until long after the fact. That paints a distorted picture. Anyway, not sure what this has to do with cold vs. flu.