Updated: Jan 24, 2020
Whether it is a cold or the flu, it may seem like everyone around you is getting sick. If you start feeling ill, know what to do!
First, know your symptoms! The common cold and influenza (flu) occur around the same time of year and have similar symptoms, which can make the two difficult to tell apart. In general, flu symptoms are worse than the common cold and can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness).
What do I do if I have the Flu?
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. Most people with flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with others except to get medical care. If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are in a high risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. People at high risk for flu complications include young children (younger than 5 years old), adults 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exception to help prevent illness.
What do I do if I have a cold?
Viruses that cause colds can spread from infected people to others through the air and close personal contact. There is no cure for a cold. To feel better, you should get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Over-the-counter medicines may help ease symptoms but will not make your cold go away any faster. Most people recover in about 7-10 days. You should call your doctor if you or your child has symptoms that last more than 10 days, symptoms that are severe or unusual, and if your child is younger than 3 months of age and has a fever or is lethargic. You should also call your doctor right away if you are at high risk for serious flu complications and get flu symptoms such as fever, chills, and muscle or body aches. Be sure to always read medication labels and use as directed if using over the counter medications to ease cold symptoms.
How can I prevent getting sick?
Whether you have the flu or a cold, you can help reduce your risk of getting a sick by limiting contact with others as much as possible, avoiding close contact with sick people, and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands. You can help others prevent getting sick by:
Staying at home while you are sick and keeping children out of school or daycare while they are sick. When sick with flu, stay home until you are fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication to avoid spreading illness to others. View "When Should My Child Stay Home" information sheet.
Avoiding close contact with others, such as hugging, kissing, or shaking hands.
Coughing and sneezing into a tissue then throwing it away, or coughing and sneezing into your upper shirt sleeve, completely covering your mouth and nose.
Washing your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
Not touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread this way.
Getting plenty of rest. Sleep is shown to help your body fight off illness.
Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as toys and doorknobs.
If you want to stay up to date on reported flu activity, HCPH weekly flu reports are available online here. To schedule a flu shot appointment with HCPH, call 419-668-1652 ext. 241