Skip to main content
Home > Health Conditions and Treatments > Influenza and flu shots > Do you have a cold or the flu?

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

    fever

    rare

    102 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit; lasts three to four days

    headache

    rare

    yes

    general aches, pains

    slight

    usual; often severe

    extreme exhaustion

    never

    yes; often early on

    runny or stuffy nose

    common

    sometimes

    sneezing

    usual

    sometimes

    sore throat

    common

    sometimes

    chest discomfort, cough

    mild to moderate; hacking cough

    common; can become severe

    complications (problems)

    sinus congestion or earache

    bronchitis or pneumonia; can be life-threatening

    Prevention

    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.

    Treatment

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

    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.
    • 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.

Copyright Information

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