CDC: How to Tell Flu Symptoms Vs. a Cold

Got the sniffles? Feeling achy? How do you know if it’s the flu? Here are the symptoms of influenza according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Do your symptoms point to a cold or the flu? (Photo: Patch Archive)
Do your symptoms point to a cold or the flu? (Photo: Patch Archive)

By Bea Karnes, Patch

Does it seem like everywhere you go, someone is blowing their nose or coughing? If you’re feeling under the weather, is it a cold or the flu?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta recently updated its Flu Symptoms information.

Here is the latest from the CDC:

Influenza Symptoms

Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

•  Fever* or feeling feverish/chills

•  Cough

•  Sore throat

•  Runny or stuffy nose

•  Muscle or body aches

•  Headaches

•  Fatigue (tiredness)

•  Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.


Flu Complications

Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.

Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.


People at Higher Risk from Flu

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

Annual Flu Deaths

Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older.


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