Philadelphia Medicine Winter 2017-18x - 27
p h i l a m e d s o c .o rg
What is the difference
between a cold and the flu?
By: Max Mercado, MD
he flu and the common cold are both
respiratory illnesses but they are caused
by different viruses. Because these two
types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be
difficult to tell the difference between them based
on symptoms alone. People with colds are more
likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally
do not result in serious health problems, such as
pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.
Flu can have very serious associated complications. Because colds and flu share many symptoms,
it can be difficult or even impossible to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone but
understanding some of the flu symptoms can help.
The flu usually comes on suddenly and people
who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
* Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
* Sore throat
* Runny or stuffy nose
* Muscle or body aches
* 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.
Most people who get the flu will recover in
several days to less than two weeks, but some people
will develop complications as a result of the flu.
A wide range of complications can be caused by
the flu virus infection of the nasal passages, throat
and lungs. While anyone can get sick with flu and
become severely ill, some people are more likely
to experience severe flu illness.
Young children, adults aged 65 years and older,
pregnant women, and people with certain chronic
medical conditions are among those groups of people who are at high
risk of serious flu complications, possibly requiring hospitalization
and sometimes resulting in death. In fact, about 20,000 to 40,000
people die of the flu each year in the United States.
Just getting the flu doesn't mean you
should call the doctor, but watch out for
these danger signs. They definitely are a
good reason to speak with your doctor.
And remember - get your flu shot today. *
* Fatigue (tiredness)
Winter 2018 : Philadelphia Medicine 27