Colds and Flu: One Season, Two Different Problems

Colds and flu belong to the same season, but they’re more different than most people think.

Flu is caused by a virus from the influenza family. The onset is usually sudden, and is characterized by high fever, along with headaches, a dry cough, aching muscles, and acute fatigue. Generally, flu symptoms are quite severe. People with the flu often have to book off work or stay home from school. What’s more, complications from the flu can be more serious (pneumonia, bronchitis, hospitalization), especially among elderly and vulnerable populations.

Colds are caused by an extremely contagious group of viruses that are completely unrelated to the influenza family. Colds appear more gradually and cause nasal congestion, sneezing, sore throats, and sometimes coughs; fevers are rare. Adults catch 2–4 colds per year on average.

Luckily, you can be vaccinated against the flu. It’s an effective way to avoid the seasonal illness altogether or at very least, reduce the severity of the symptoms. Flu shots don’t protect you from colds. If you want to avoid those, stop in and see your health professional.

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