Cold and Flu Symptoms

Colds and flu are both highly contagious and, in the initial stages, a bad cold and a mild case of the flu might seem alike.  However, unlike a cold, flu is a serious illness that can have life-threatening complications.  Check this table to compare flu and cold symptoms.

Symptoms Cold Flu
Fever Rare in adults and older children, but can be as high as 102 degrees F (39 degrees C) in infants and small children Usually 102 degrees F (39 degrees C), but can go up to 104 degrees F (40 degrees C) and usually lasts 3 to 4 days
Headache Rare Sudden onset and can be severe
General muscle aches and pains Sometimes, mild Usual, and often severe
Tiredness and weakness Sometimes, mild Often extreme, and can last two or more weeks
Extreme exhaustion or fatigue Rare Very common, sudden onset and can be severe
Runny, stuffy nose Common Common
Sneezing Common Sometimes
Sore throat Common Common
Cough Sometimes, mild hacking cough Usual, and can become severe
Complication Can lead to sinus congestion or earache Can lead to pneumonia and severe respiratory problems, can worsen other chronic health problems

Ten Tips for Dodging the Flu

  1. Wash your hands. Most cold and flu viruses are spread by direct contact.
  2. Don’t cover your sneezes and coughs with your hands. Use a tissue, then throw it away immediately.  If you do have to cough or sneeze into your hands, wash them immediately.
  3. Don’t touch your face. Cold and flu viruses enter your body through the eyes, nose or mouth.  Touching their faces is the main way children catch colds and a key way that they pass colds on to their parents.
  4. Drink plenty of fluids. A typical, healthy adult needs 8 glasses of fluids (eight ounces each) a day.
  5. Get fresh air. A regular dose of fresh air is important, especially in cold weather when central heating dries you out and makes your body more vulnerable to cold and flu viruses.
  6. Do aerobic exercise regularly. These exercises help increase the body’s natural virus-killing cells.  A good example of an aerobic exercise is walking.
  7. Don’t smoke. Statistics show that heavy smokers get more severe colds and more respiratory illnesses.  Even being around smoke profoundly affects the immune system.
  8. Eat well. A balanced diet including foods rich in zinc and Vitamin C will help to keep your immune system strong.
  9. Limit alcohol consumption. Heavy drinkers are more prone to initial infections as well as secondary complications.
  10. Avoid crowds. If there is a known flu outbreak, it is best to avoid crowded places.

Cold and Flu Treatment

If you do come down with the flu, your Careworks healthcare provider can prescribe a regiment of anti-viral medicine that may speed your recovery and reduce symptom severity, especially if used within 48 hours.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Seasonal Influenza Info.

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