The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalizations. Flu can have very serious associated complications. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently.
What to Do If You Get a Cold
If you get a cold, get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated.
Many over-the-counter cold medications are available in the pharmacy at Redfern Health Center. While these medicines can’t cure a cold, they can help reduce cold symptoms. Antibiotics will NOT help you recover from a cold!
What to Do If You Get the Flu
It is expected that most people will recover without needing medical care.
If you have severe illness or you are at high risk for flu complications, contact Redfern or another health-care provider to get medical care. If Redfern is closed, see after-hours/urgent care options. There are drugs your doctor may prescribe for treating the flu called “antivirals.” If started within two days of becoming sick, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and help prevent serious complications.
- If you are sick, you should stay home and limit contact with other people, except to seek medical care. The CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines. Some people with influenza will not have fever; therefore, absence of fever does not mean absence of infection. Isolate yourself during this time period even if you are taking antiviral drugs for treatment of the flu.
- If you leave the house to seek medical care, wear a facemask, if available and tolerable. Always cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. In general, you should avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness.
- If you are sick and sharing common spaces with other household members, wear a facemask if available to help prevent spreading the virus to others.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.
Seek a medical provider if you have one or more of the following:
- A temperature higher than 100.4 degrees F
- Symptoms that last more than 10 days
- Symptoms that are severe or unusual
Flu Prevention Tips
- Get a flu shot
- Avoid touching face (eyes, nose, mouth)
- Avoid close contact with sick persons
- Wash hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Get plenty of sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Manage stress levels