Cold and Flu

The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar flu-like symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu. 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.

The flu season will last through fall and winter. For the most up to date information, including guidance for colleges and universities, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services' web site

Stay Healthy 

  • Get a flu shot to help protect yourself from seasonal flu. Available from the Health Clinic at your teaching site.
  • Get a pneumonia shot to prevent secondary infection if you are over the age of 65 or have a chronic illness such as diabetes or asthma. For specific guidelines talk to your healthcare provider, or call the CDC hotline 1.800.232.4636.
  • Make sure your family's immunizations are up-to-date.
  • Take common sense steps to limit the spread of germs. Make good hygiene a habit:
    • Wash hands frequently with soap and water.  
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Put used tissues in a waste basket.
    • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve if you don't have a tissue.  
    • Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs are often spread when someone touches something that is contaminated and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
    • Stay at home if you are sick.  
    • It is always a good idea to practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. 

(Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

What to do if You Get Sick

Learn what you can do to help yourself recover from colds and the flu.

Related Information

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Key Facts about Antiviral Drugs and Seasonal Flu
Overview of antiviral drugs and who should get them.
Seasonal Flu Information for Parents 

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