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Is it a Cold, or the Dreaded Flu?

Monday November 26, 2018

You or your child has a sore throat, cough, and high fever — could it be the flu? Or just a common cold?

The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency wants to help you determine the difference, and remind you that it’s time to get your flu shot!

“The flu usually causes symptoms that make people feel worse than if they have a cold. But it's not always easy to tell the difference between the two,” says Yvonne Atwood, Director of Personal Health and Disease Prevention. “Even doctors need to do a test to confirm the diagnosis because the symptoms can be so similar.”

Answer these questions to help determine if it’s only a cold, or if the dreaded flu has entered your home:

Flu vs. Colds: A Guide to Symptoms
Was the start of the illness …
Do you have a …
high fever?
no (or mild) fever?
Is your exhaustion level …
Is your head …
Is your appetite …
Are your muscles …
Do you have …
no chills?


If most of your answers are in the first category, chances are that you or your child has the flu. If your answers were usually in the second category, it's most likely a cold. Even if the illness looks like a cold, remember that flu symptoms can vary from person to person and can even change over time. So if you think it could be the flu, call your doctor. Some bacterial diseases, like strep throat or pneumonia, can also look like the flu or a cold. It's important to get medical care right away if you or your child:

The flu can cause complications even in healthy people. But some are at more of a risk, such as kids younger than 5 and those with asthma. They may become sicker with the flu and need to be hospitalized. For severely ill kids or those with other special circumstances, doctors may prescribe an antiviral medicine that can ease flu symptoms, but only if it's given within 48 hours of the start of the illness. Most of the time, you can care for your child at home by offering plenty of liquids, rest, and extra comfort. Remember, the best defense against the flu is the flu shot. Call your local office to schedule an appointment to get your family vaccinated today.