How to tell a cold from the flu? Flu is more severe
Published: January 11, 2013 07:31AM
Updated: January 10, 2013 10:31PM
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Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune Laurie Anderson, a secretary at Lone Peak High School in Highland, takes advantage of the flu shots being administered in the school on Tuesday, November 6, 2012, as licensed practical nurse Tyra Hazen prepares her arm. Public health officials say the best way to prevent getting influenza this flu season is to get your annual flu shot. Utah County kicked off its community clinics, offered at sites around the county.

The common cold and flu are caused by different viruses but can have some similar symptoms, making them tough to tell apart. In general, the flu is worse and symptoms are more intense.

Colds • Usual symptoms include stuffy or runny nose, sore throat and sneezing. Coughs are hacking and productive. It’s unusual to have fever, chills, headaches and body aches, and if they do occur, they are mild.

Flu • Fever is usually present, along with chills, headache and moderate-to-severe body aches and tiredness. Symptoms can come on rapidly, within three to six hours. Coughs are dry and unproductive, and sore throats are less common.

Prevention • To avoid colds and flu, wash your hands with warm water and soap after you’ve been out in public or around sick people. Don’t share cups or utensils. And get a flu vaccination — officials say it’s not too late, even in places where flu is raging.

Treatment • People with colds or mild cases of the flu should get plenty of rest and fluids. Those with severe symptoms, such as a high fever or difficulty breathing, should see a doctor and may be prescribed antiviral drugs or other medications. Children should not be given aspirin without a doctor’s approval.

Sources • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Roche, maker of Tamiflu.