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World's Best Advice for your Common Cold!

80. American College of Emergency Physician Guide to Cold and Flu (part 2)

Continued from Part 1: REPOST OF ACEP COLD AND FLU ADVICE, part 2

By American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2012 — The Nation’s Emergency Physicians Want You To Know The Difference Between Them and What You Can Do To Stay Healthy
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Is it the flu or a cold? How to tell the difference?


Seasonal influenza, which is commonly known as “the flu” may affect between 5 to as high as 20 percent of the U.S. population depending on the year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  More than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year for flu-related complications and about 36,000 people die each year from the flu.

Older people, young children, pregnant women and those with certain chronic health conditions are at higher risk.  It spreads from person to person by direct contact or through virus-infected droplets coughed or sneezed in the air.  The best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated every year.  The ideal time for that is usually before flu season begins — which typically peaks in January and will last through about March.

Signs and symptoms of the flu may include:

  • High fever (usually 100 degrees F to 103 degrees F in adults and often higher in children)
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Aches
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Weakness
  • Ear Infection
  • Diarrhea

Call your primary care doctor or go to the nearest emergency department if you feel it’s necessary and if symptoms are severe or worsen.

Both the common cold and flu are caused by viruses, and therefore do not respond to antibiotics.  Flu symptoms usually are more severe than the typical sneezing, stuffiness and congestion that go along with a cold.  Flu symptoms also tend to develop quickly — typically between one and four days after a person is exposed to the flu virus, and people are contagious from 24 hours before they become ill until their symptoms resolve.