Influenza vs. the Common Cold

fluBoth illnesses are caused by viruses and are not usually treated with antibiotics. Symptoms are similar, including runny nose, sore throat, fever, chills and muscle aches.

Flu season usually starts around the end of November and peaks by late January or early February for northern climates.

FLU PREVENTION

  • Get a yearly flu shot by mid-December. This provides 90% protection from the Influenza A and B strains contained in it. Even if you still get the flu, the symptoms are generally less severe in nature and duration.
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Avoid crowds and closed-in spaces with those who are ill.
  • If you are sick, cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, avoid crowds, use disposable tissues and wash your hands frequently to avoid spreading the virus

TREATMENT

  • Rest
  • Fluids
  • Analgesics/Antipyretics: Panadol, Ibuprofen for muscle aches and fever, Hot tea with lemon and honey, warm salt water gargles, lozenges, analgesics for a sore throat

WHO SHOULD DEFINITELY GET THE FLU SHOT…

  • Adults and children with chronic heart or lung problems
  • Diabetics
  • People over 60 years old
  • Adults and children with kidney, blood or immune system problems
  • Family members of any of the above groups

WHO SHOULD NOT HAVE THE FLU SHOT?

  • Those with an allergy to eggs, chicken, neomycin or formaldehyde
  • Those with a fever or acute infectious disease
  • Those with a history of a bad reaction to the flu shot in the past
  • Those with a history of Guillain Barre Syndrome

CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE GETTING A FLU SHOT, IF

  • You are pregnant
  • You’re nursing a baby
  • You have any kind of immunodeficiency

SIDE EFFECTS OF THE FLU SHOT

  • Minor soreness, swelling or redness at the site of injection
  • Rare with our particular vaccine which is an inactivated split virus and cannot cause the flu: fever, weakness, trembling, fatigue, headache, sweating, muscle aches.
  • Very rare: pain along nerve, convulsions, thrombocytopenia, allergic reaction, vasculitis, neurological abnormalities.

THE COMPARISON

Generally, symptoms are more severe with the flu: fever to 104 (40 C) for 3-5 days and headache, followed by weakness and fatigue in addition to the upper respiratory symptoms mentioned above. Influenza is very contagious and spread through the air by droplets released with sneezing and coughing. As with the common cold, you can also catch it by touching a contaminated surface and then rubbing your eyes, nose or mouth. Most influenza is preventable with yearly immunizations and frequent handwashing. Secondary bacterial infections can occur with colds or the flu and these may require antibiotics (such as for sinusitis or pneumonia).