Cold and Flu

Common Cold and Flu

Written by NHBP Health Facility Staff

Do you know the difference between the common cold and the flu?

The flu and common cold have similar symptoms but are caused by different viruses. Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between the two. The common cold is a viral infection of your nose and throat (upper respiratory tract). The flu is caused by the influenza A or B viruses and also infects the nose and throat, but could also infect the lungs. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold and the symptoms can be more intense. Colds usually don’t result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalizations. The flu can have more serious associated complications.

Signs/Symptoms of the flu:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Feeling tired

Signs/Symptoms of the common cold:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat

There are several things that you can do to prevent both the cold and flu. It is important to clean your hands, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, stay home when you are sick, get plenty of sleep, manage your stress, stay active, eat nutritious foods and drink plenty of fluids. One of the best ways to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during flu season.

If you are feeling sick and not sure if it is the cold or flu, it is important to see your doctor. Your health care provider may diagnose you with the flu based off your symptoms or they may choose to use a flu test to diagnose you.

Stay healthy!


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