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Do you have a cold or the flu?

  • These general guidelines can help determine if you have the common cold or the flu.

    Symptom Cold Flu



    100 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit; lasts three to four days



    yes; often intense

    general aches, pains


    usual; often severe

    extreme exhaustion


    yes; often early on

    runny or stuffy nose






    sore throat



    chest discomfort, cough

    mild to moderate; hacking cough

    common; can become severe

    diarrhea and vomiting


    sometimes (more common for children than adults)

    Complications (problems)

    sinus congestion or earache

    bronchitis or pneumonia; can be life-threatening


    Use good respiratory and hand hygiene to stop the spread of germs.

    Get a seasonal flu vaccine each year, and use good respiratory and hand hygiene.


    Consider over-the-counter medicine for temporary relief of symptoms.

    Ask your doctor about antiviral medicines if you are pregnant or if you have a chronic (long-lasting) illness.

    Stop the spread of germs that make you and others sick

    Get a flu shot.

    Annual influenza vaccinations are available by appointment at most Allina Health clinics.
    Schedule flu shots online with MyChart.

    Clinic or hospital visit tips

    While you are visiting a health care facility:

    • If you cannot get to a sink to wash your hands, please ask your health care provider for a waterless alcohol handrub.
    • Please ask your health care provider if he or she cleansed his or her hands before touching you. Your provider will cleanse his or her hands with a waterless alcohol handrub or with soap and water.
    • Before you or anyone else handles your baby, make sure hands are cleansed.

    If you are coughing or sneezing,you may be asked to put on a surgical mask to protect others.

    Serious respiratory illness like influenza (the flu) , respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough (pertussis), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) are spread by:

    • coughing or sneezing
    • having unclean hands.

    To help stop the spread of germs:

    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Put the used tissue in the waste basket.
    • If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.

    If you are coughing or sneezing, cleansing your hands is the easiest way to reduce the risk of spreading germs that cause infections.

    Washing your hands is the easiest way to reduce the risk of spreading germs that cause infections.

    • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
    • Wash your hands after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or before eating.
    • If you cannot get to a sink, clean your hands with a waterless alcohol handrub.

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This site is presented for information only and is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice. Allina Health®, Allina®, the Allina Health logo, and Medformation® are registered trademarks of Allina Health System. Presentation and Design ©2015 Allina Health. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED