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Campus Health Service

Is it a cold or the flu?

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by various influenza viruses. It is spread via sneezing or coughing of an infected person.

Symptoms Cold Flu
Fever
Headache
General aches, pains
Fatigue, weakness
Exhaustion
Stuffy nose
Sneezing
Sore throat
Coughing
rare
rare
slight
very mild
never
common
usually
mostly
mild hacking cough
high, lasting for 3-4 days
present
often severe
may last 3-4 weeks
early and prominent
occasional
occasional
occasional
common, may become severe
Complications blocked sinuses, earache bronchitis, pneumonia, may become life-threatening
Prevention None annual vaccination

Certain actions may minimize your risk of developing these conditions such as:

  • Good ventilation / open windows
  • Washing of hands regularly after contact with humans / objects
  • Avoid people with colds when possible
  • Sneeze or cough in a tissue / discard appropriately
  • Keep working surfaces clean at all times
  • Break the habit of touching your nose, eyes, mouth as these are entry points for the germs

Treatment:

  • Only for relief of cold symptoms
    • bedrest
    • lots of fluids
    • anti-pyrexial meds
  • flu
    • anti-viral drugs within 24-48 hours after onset

Antibiotics are not effective against the flu virus!

Consult your doctor if:

  • Your symptoms get worse
  • Your symptoms last more than five days
  • After feeling a little better, you develop signs of a more serious nature, such as coughing up thick yellow/green phlegm, chest pain, vomiting etc.

Go for your flu "shot", don't get the flu!

Who should be vaccinated?

  • All people -including children- who live/work with persons in high-risk groups for contracting flu
  • Health care workers in contact with people in high-risk groups
  • High-risk groups include:
    • people older than 65
    • people suffering from chronic disorders eg diabetes, asthma, emphysema, heart and lung diseases
    • residents of long-term housing facilities
    • people with immune depressive conditions eg. Hiv, treatment for cancer