Is it a Cold or the Flu?

Every year, up to 60 million people in the United States come down with the flu.  Besides the distress of the illness, daily life can be disrupted.  Knowing the difference between a cold and the flu, as well as how to prevent and treat it, can help keep your family healthy this flu season.

Colds and flu are both caused by viruses and are highly contagious.  With the flu, the symptoms in adults and children come on like a freight train and are much more severe, causing fever spikes, body aches, fatigue, and chills.

The Chart below can help you to know the difference between a cold and the flu.

Symptoms at a Glance

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS           







 common; lasting 3-4 days



 dry; can become severe

 hacking; mild




 muscle/joint aches, pain

 usual; often severe


 fatigue and weakness

 can last up to 2 weeks  very mild
 extreme exhaustion  early and prominent  never
 chest discomfort  common  mild/moderate
 stuffy nose  sometimes  common
 sneezing  sometimes  usually
 sore throat  sometimes  common

Know Your Flu Facts

The flu virus enters the body through the nose, mouth, or eyes.  The virus is spread when someone with the flu coughs or sneezes.  Symptoms usually appear within 1 to 4 days of contact.  A person with the flu is contagious one day before he or she feels sick, and can continue to pass the flu to others 3 to 7 days after symptoms appear.

Treatment and Prevention for Your Whole Family

The first line of defense against the flu is to get a flu shot each fall.  It is NOT TRUE that getting the vaccine will give you the flu.  But because the particular vaccine flu strains may not be the same ones that are going around in your area, the vaccine is not always 100% effective.

Kids in school tend to be the first people in a community to catch the flu and then spread it to others.  If you think your child or any member of your family has the flu, contact your physician for an evaluation.


Information provided by Roche Pharmaceuticals
Roche Laboratories Inc.
340 Kingsland Street
Nutley, New Jersey 07110-1199
Copyright 2006

Printable View