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Colds and Flu

Are Colds and Flu the same thing?

  • No, but Colds and Flu do share many similarities.
    • Both are caused by viruses
      (colds typically caused by the Rhinovirus, Flu the Influenza Virus).
    • Both are highly contagious, involve the respiratory tract, and have a fairly predictable seasonal pattern.
  • Flu symptoms are often more severe than cold symptoms.
  • The terms cold and flu are often used interchangeably. However, there are important differences particularly in terms of prevention.
How can I protect myself against Cold and Flu?
  • Cold Prevention – colds are so common that it is almost impossible to completely avoid catching one.
    • Tips to reduce your risk:
      • Avoid close contact with people who have a cold, especially during the first 3 days, when they are most contagious.
      • Wash your hand frequently.
      • Keep your fingers away from your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Flu Prevention – the flu vaccine can help prevent or decrease the severity of many flu cases.
    • Because the flu virus undergoes constant change new vaccines are developed every year.
    • The optimal time to receive the flu shot is from early October to mid-November.
    • Influenza activity generally peaks between late December and early March in the U.S.
    • The Flu vaccine is strongly recommended for individuals with a compromised immune status, adults over 50, and pregnant women who will be in their 2nd or 3rd trimester during flu season.

Is the flu vaccine safe?

  • Yes, the vaccine is made from inactivated virus. A person cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine.
  • Some people – less than one out of three, will develop soreness around the site for 1 to 2 days.
Vaccine is not recommended for:
  • People who are allergic to eggs.
    The viral material is grown in eggs and may cause an adverse reaction.
  • People that have an acute illness.
    It is recommended that they wait until they make a complete recovery.

Should I starve a cold and feed a fever?

  • No, this is not good advice.
    • Your intake of fluids should be increased when you have a cold or fever.
    • You should eat enough to satisfy your appetite.
  • Other myths concerning colds such as large doses of Vitamin C, and herbal treatment of Echinacea have not been proven to effectively prevent or cure colds.

Is the stomach flu also caused by the influenza virus?

  • Yes, but this is not generally associated with the main symptoms of the flu and occurs in only one out of three patients.
    • The term “stomach flu” is misleading.
    • Other viruses typically cause stomach distress.
  • Another common myth is that cold weather will cause the flu.
    • Epidemics occur in the winter months.
    • This has nothing to do with being outside in cold weather.
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