Do you have the flu or are you just suffering from a bad cold? We receive lots of calls at Baptist Health Line from people wondering the same thing. The flu and the common cold have similar flu-like symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell them apart based on symptoms alone.
What is the difference?
The flu and common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In general, colds are milder than the flu, and people are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Cold symptoms appear gradually, while flu symptoms can appear within three to six hours. Flu symptoms, such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough, are worse and more intense. They also can result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia and hospitalizations. Colds usually last for about a week, while flu symptoms gradually improve after two to five days.
How can you protect against both?
- Always cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze.
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water.
- If you are sick, stay at home and avoid others for least 24 hours after fever is gone and/or no longer taking fever-reducing medication for 24 hours.
Phone the Baptist Health Line 24/7 at (270) 575-2918 if you have health questions, even if you’ve never been a patient at Western Baptist. Our nurses also can answer your questions here.