Cold and Flu Facts 


With cold and flu season in full swing, it's essential for every member of the family to be aware of ways they can avoid getting sick and spreading it to others. Because colds and the flu are unique, it's important to correctly identify their differences in order to accurately combat them. To show you how to do this, we have outlined the causes, symptoms, and prevention methods for both illnesses. 

What causes a cold?

There are several different upper respiratory viruses that can lead to the common cold, but rhinoviruses are the most common cause.

How are colds spread?

Colds are extremely contagious and are easily shared from person-to-person. You are more likely to catch a cold by breathing in air after sick people cough or sneeze and by touching a surface or object they just used.

What are the symptoms of a cold?

  • Low or no fever
  • Stuffy and runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sometimes a headache
  • Mild, hacking cough
  • Slight aches and pains
  • Mild fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Mostly normal energy level or slightly sluggish

When do symptoms appear and how long do they last?

Cold symptoms usually appear 2 to 3 days after the virus enters the body and can last anywhere from several days to several weeks.

What causes the flu? 

Like the common cold, the flu is also caused by a virus. However, the flu virus only has a few strains that continuously change.

How is the flu spread?

The flu is also extremely contagious and are easily shared from person-to-person. Just like colds, you are more likely to catch the flu by breathing in air after sick people cough or sneeze. Because the flu virus can live on objects and surfaces for a short time, you can also get sick by touching a surface or object after a sick person and then touching your face.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

  • High fever
  • Clear nose
  • Sometimes sneezing
  • Headache
  • Severe cough
  • Severe aches and pains
  • Long lasting fatigue
  • Sometimes a sore throat
  • Extreme levels of exhaustion

When do symptoms appear and how long do they last?

Flu symptoms usually starts abruptly. A fever and body aches can last anywhere from 3 to 5 days while the cough and fatigue can last for 2 weeks or more.

How can I avoid catching and spreading colds and the flu?

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating.
  • Use throwaway hand wipes or gel sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol when soap and water aren’t easily available.
  • Avoid putting your hands near your face, eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • When possible, avoid or limit contact with sick people.
  • When coughing or sneezing, be sure to cover your nose and mouth.
  • Clean surfaces in the home that others may touch.
  • Avoid touching surfaces and objects previously handled by sick people.
  • To avoid the flu, the most effective way to stay healthy is to get the flu shot (in addition to taking the steps above.)

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