The common cold and the flu are both respiratory infections caused by viruses. The flu is considered to be more serious because it can lead to pneumonia and even death in persons who have other chronic illnesses.
Symptoms of a cold come on gradually over a few days and are less severe than flu symptoms. The most common symptoms of a cold are: stuffy/runny nose, sneezing and mild sore throat. You rarely have a fever or body aches with a cold.
Symptoms of the flu come on very quickly and are usually more severe than cold symptoms. The most common symptoms are: tiredness, fever, chills, headache and major body aches and pains….your entire body feels sick.
Neither needs to be treated with antibiotics (antibiotics only work against bacteria); but if symptoms get worse or persist for more than a few days, call your doctor.
There is a vaccine for the flu. It is recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months get vaccinated.
Colds can be treated with nasal decongestants, cough medicine and Tylenol. Drink fluids. If temperature is over 101, call your doctor.
The flu should be treated with bed rest, fluids, using a humidifier and avoiding alcohol and tobacco. Use Tylenol to relieve the aches and pains and a cough suppressant to treat a cough. Don’t take antihistamines. Call your doctor, if the symptoms persist longer than a week, get worse or are very severe. Most people recover from both a cold and the flu at home.
The best protection against the flu is to get a flu shot, wash your hands often, cover your cough and sneeze and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you are sick, stay home, away from work, school and other public places.
What is called the “stomach flu” is not flu but is a mild form of food poisoning. This is usually gone within 24 hours.
North End Waterfront Health Flu hotline number: 617-643-8114