Cold vs. Flu — What You Need to Know

Wellness Wednesday: Fitness, lifestyle, and general health tips and news. Because we want you to be the best you.

By: Shirley De Leon

Coming down with the flu, or is it a cold? Most people can hardly tell the difference. Each illness springs from different viruses, so each carries its own set of symptoms.

Flu symptoms hit harder and quicker than cold symptoms. A fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit for three to four days, dry cough, moderate to severe body aches, chills, fatigue, headaches and chest discomfort are common in the flu but rare or mild in a cold.

A cold is associated with slight body aches, mucus-producing coughs, stuffy nose, tiredness, sneezing, sore throat and mild to moderate chest pains. Cold symptoms develop over a few days, rather than within three to six hours as expected in the flu.

Though vaccines have prevented many flu-related deaths, the flu still claims anywhere between 3,000 and 49,000 lives per year, according to the CDC. Knowing how to prevent a cold and the flu is just as important as recognizing which is one is which. In either case, take the following necessary steps:

  1. Get vaccinated for the flu.
  2. Avoid close contact with people.

Germs and diseases spread as far as 6 feet.

  1. Stay home from work, school and errands.
  2. Cover mouth and nose whenever coughing or sneezing.

The best way is to pull the top part of your shirt over your nose and cough or sneeze.

  1. Wash hands frequently.
  2. Don’t touch your eyes, mouth and nose.
  3. Adopt good health habits.

Get at least seven hours of sleep regularly; eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean dairy, and lean protein; and exercise routinely.

  1. Take antiviral medication, only if a doctor prescribes it. 



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