How Can You Tell if It’s Really the Flu?


The CDC says that the seasonal flu virus is decreasing in some parts of the country, but still increasing in other parts. The flu is still considered widespread throughout the U.S. except in Hawaii, Tennessee, Georgia, the District of Columbia. 

But how can you tell if it’s just a common cold or the flu? Both colds and the flu are caused by viruses and both are respiratory illnesses. But the main difference is that one is much stronger than the other.

Colds come on gradually while the flu is noticeably more intense causing body aches, fever, extreme tiredness, and dry cough all at once. Colds don’t result in serious illnesses like pneumonia, bacterial infections, and hospitalization.

Flu Treatments

In recent weeks hospitalizations have risen, especially among those 65 and older. But in most cases, both the flu and the common cold go away once your immune system catches up. Lots of sleep, ample water, and laying low is effective in both cases. Prescription medications called antiviral drugs can be used to fight the flu, especially if it's caught early on. Head to your doctor if you're experiencing flu symptoms, which can also include fever, sore throat, headache, chills, vomiting, and extreme fatigue. 

The CDC is still recommending vaccinations for everyone six months and older.


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Read More: Can You Get the Flu From Your Cell Phone?

Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.









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