Health Education

Flu versus Cold – By: Kassie Roussel, Director of Marketing

Bizzuka Administrator - Tuesday, November 17, 2015 | Comments (0)
The story of the seasons—the leaves start falling, the weather cools (well, maybe not if you live in South Louisiana!) and the sniffles start. Most people suffer from the common cold at least once during the winter, but at what point should you start worrying that your coughing and sneezing may be the culprit of something more serious? Below are several tips to help you differentiate a cold from the flu.


Flu symptoms usually appear rapidly, while cold symptoms develop over time. A cold — at least the most bothersome symptoms—will usually last up to a week. If you have the flu, it can take one to two weeks (or more) for you to start feeling like yourself again.

If you are suffering from a cold—coughing, sneezing, stuffy nose, sore throat and mild chest discomfort are normal symptoms, while the flu will likely cause fevers, severe aches, fatigue, dry cough, chest discomfort, headache, decreased appetite and nausea. A person with a cold is usually “uncomfortable” while a person with the flu may find it hard to even get out of bed.

If you are experiencing typical cold symptoms that last longer than seven days, it is important to see a physician to rule out other illnesses. With any symptoms, seek immediate help for difficulty breathing, sudden dizziness or confusion, severe or persistent vomiting and/or fever that consistently gets better, then worsens.

A healthy person with the flu will typically recover after about a week or two without any lasting problem even without seeing a physician. However, if you are extremely uncomfortable, a physician can usually provide medication within 48 hours of the on-set of the virus to help ease symptoms.

Remember, antibiotics don’t treat the flu. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections and the flu is a virus. People with a higher risk of catching the flu, do need to seek medical attention as soon as possible to avoid life-threatening complications. Those with an increased risk include: children younger than five, adults older than 65, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems and/or people with chronic medical conditions.

So, what’s the number one scientifically-proven way to reduce of risk of contracting the common cold? Believe it or not, it’s washing your hands well and often. During cold season, it is also important to sneeze and cough into a tissue and stay hydrated. The most effective means of reducing your risk of the flu is to get a flu shot. Flu season is typically October 1st through March 31st and the vaccination is available through the hospital’s primary care clinics during this time.

The above tips are merely suggestions to help you better distinguish between the flu and a common cold. We recommend speaking to your primary care provider if you have questions or if you experience any symptoms that are worrisome.


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