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Your 2024-2025 Benefits Guide

Is it a Cold or the Flu?

It’s hard to tell the difference. So use the chart below to figure out what’s making you sick.

It’s hard to tell the difference. So use the chart below to figure out what’s making you sick.

Talk to your doctor if you’re worried

A cold and the flu can have similar symptoms. Your doctor can help you fight the right kind of infection. Especially if it’s severe.

And stay home when you’re sick

This helps stop viruses from spreading.

Symptoms: Cold: Flu:
Fever Rare Usual; high (100°F to 102°F, occasionally higher, especially in young children); lasts 3 to 4 days.
Headache Rare Common
Aches and pains Slight Usual, often sever
Fatigue, weakness Sometimes Usual; can last up to 2 to 3 weeks
Exhaustion Never Usual; at the beginning of the illness
Stuffy nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Chest pain, cough Mild to moderate; hacking cough Common; can become severe
Treatment The only things that help are symptomatic treatments with rest, plenty of fluids, and acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. Children should not receive aspirin for any condition before they are 12 years old. Antihistamines and decongestants, common ingredients in over-the-counter cold medicines have not been shown to help most people. Antiviral drugs may help but must be started early. These are especially recommended for persons at risk for flu complications including pregnant women. Everyone may benefit from symptomatic treatments such as rest, plenty of fluids and acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen for pain and fever. Children must not take aspirin for flu because it could cause a serious complication. Antihistamines and decongestants, common ingredients in over-the-counter cold medicines have not been shown to help most people.
Prevention Wash your hands often with soap and water; avoid close contact with anyone with a cold. Yearly vaccination; antiviral drugs – see your doctor
Complications Sinus congestion, middle ear infection, asthma Bronchitis, pneumonia; can worsen chronic conditions; can be life-threatening. Complications more likely in the elderly, those with chronic conditions, young children and pregnant women.

Sources:

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/flu/documents/sick.pdf

http://timewellspent.anthem.com/newsletters/html/6513