Councilman Mike Elam's Blog

Jan 04

[ARCHIVED] Cold vs. Flu

The original item was published from January 3, 2019 11:07 AM to January 4, 2019 8:15 AM


Influenza (the flu) and the common cold are respiratory illnesses that share similar symptoms.Coughing Both typically last about one week, but can develop into longer lasting, more serious complications. Although they are similar, knowing their differences is important to preventing illness. The Division of Health Services health care professionals offer the following information to promote a healthier, happier winter for us all.

Is it the Flu or Common Cold?
Signs and Symptoms Influenza Common Cold 
Onset of symptoms Fast Gradual 
Fever Usual Rare
Aches  Usual Slight
Chills  Common Uncommon
Fatigue and/or Weakness  Usual Sometimes
Sneezing Sometimes Common
Stuffy nose/Congestion Sometimes  Common
Sore throat  Sometimes Common
Chest discomfort/Cough  Common  Moderate
Headache  Common Rare

Prevent the Spread

The most effective way to strengthen the body’s immunity against the flu is to receive an annual immunization. The Division of Health Services recommends that all St. Charles Countyi got my flu shot residents ages 6 months and older receive one of two types of available influenza vaccinations:

  • Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccination – Appropriate for all individuals ages 6 months or older to protect against the four most common viruses in circulation. Cost is $36.
  • High-Dose Influenza Vaccination – Designed for those age 65 or older to boost the body’s ability to create antibodies against the illness. Cost is $66.

Immunizations are available on by appointment through the Department of Public Health at 1650 Boones Lick Road in St. Charles. To make an appointment for either of the seasonal influenza vaccinations, please call 636-949-1857.

There is no vaccine to prevent the common cold, but these additional steps will prevent the spread of germs in our community:

  1. Wash hands regularly with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
  2. Use sanitizing cleanser on surfaces to kill viruses.
  3. Stay away from those who may be sick. Stay home when you are sick. Avoid close contact with others.
  4. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

Treat Them Differently

Preventing the spread is the best way to minimize the risk for illness. But, if you do become sick with the flu, quick action can reduce complications. If flu is confirmed through testing, a medical professional can prescribe antiviral medications to lessen symptoms and shorten the length of the illness. These medications are most effective when taken within the first 48 hours after noticing symptoms.

There is no cure for the common cold, but there are steps to ease symptoms. To feel better, an infected person should get lots of rest and drink fluids. Over-the-counter medicines can ease symptoms, but they do not stop the virus. Talk with a medical professional and follow manufacturer’s directions when using these medicines. If symptoms last longer than one week or are more severe than usual, contact a medical professional.

Say "NO" to Stomach Flu

Many people use the term “stomach flu” when describing illnesses with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Although influenza sufferers can sometimes display these symptoms, the flu is a respiratory (lung and airways) disease and not a stomach or intestinal illness. These stomach viruses are spread through contact with an infected person, when consuming contaminated food or water or by touching infected surfaces and then touching the hands to the mouth area. These viruses cannot be prevented but can be limited through proper hygiene, safe food handling, a thorough cleaning of contaminated areas and by staying home when sick.

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i got my flu shot