You & Your Health

Is It a Cold Or the Flu? When To Seek Care

Some flu symptoms, similar to a cold, can include nasal congestion and cough.
January 2018

Your nose is running. You are coughing and tired. Are you sure it’s just a cold? You could have influenza, commonly referred to as “the flu.” Although common, the flu can be serious and even lead to hospitalization or death. Knowing the difference between a cold and the flu is very important in order to get the right care, prevent worsening symptoms, and help prevent the spread to others.

Even if you’ve had the flu vaccination this year, it’s still possible to catch the flu and to pass it on to others. So how do you know if you have the flu? Flu symptoms are often very similar to those of a cold and include nasal congestion, cough, aches and fatigue. Teladoc’s Dr. Tibbels offers the top five signs you may have the flu:

• Quick onset. The flu often comes on suddenly, whereas cold symptoms can slowly worsen over the span of a few days and are generally milder.

• Fever. A moderate to high fever (at or above 101 degrees Fahrenheit) and chills are associated with the flu, and are not typical symptoms of the cold.

• Aches and headaches. Severe muscle or body aches are a telltale flu symptom.

• Known exposure: Close contact with individuals known to have influenza can increase the chance of contracting the virus.

• Time of year. You can catch a cold at any time of year, but flu season typically runs from November through March. Symptoms that show up outside of flu season are more likely to be from a cold or an allergy.

To learn more about the level of flu risk where you live, visit – (BPT).


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