The following information is provided to help you differentiate between common cold symptoms and influenza symptoms. This information was provided by the Center for Disease Control and Dr. C. Everett Koop's Web sites.
The differences between the common cold symptoms and the influenza symptoms are as follows:
- Gradual onset of symptoms
- Mild fatigue
- Mild to moderate body aches
- Nasal congestion & sneezing
- Possible mild fever
- Possible mild headache
- Sore throat
- Dry cough
- High fever (100-104) that lasts 3-4 days
- Loss of appetite
- Possible runny nose
- Possible sore throat
- Severe fatigue, weakness & exhaustion
- Severe headache
- Severe muscle and body aches
- Sudden onset of symptoms
The amount of time from exposure to developing symptoms of influenza is from one to four days. Persons with influenza may be contagious from one day before symptoms and for three to seven days after the onset of symptoms.
There are three medications available for the treatment of influenza. They are Amantadine, Tamiflu, and Remantadine (Relenza). They are called antiviral agents and can reduce the severity and shorten the duration of influenza if administered within 48 hours of illness onset. If you become ill with symptoms of influenza, you should seek medical evaluation within 48 hours. In the meantime, drink plenty of fluids, rest, gargle with warm salt water and take Tylenol or Advil for relief of fever and muscle aches. Young adults and children should never use aspirin for relief of pain or fever caused by a viral illness as a serious complication could occur.
Ifluenza-Like Illness Guidelines (pdf - 47.83 KB)
In order to prevent contracting influenza, one can still become vaccinated. Health Services sponsors a Flu Shot clinic in the fall, usually in October, November or December. Other ways to prevent contracting influenza are to avoid close contact with people who are sick and practice good hand washing techniques, especially before eating and drinking. If you have symptoms, in addition to practicing good hand washing techniques, take care to cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing and dispose of used tissues properly and immediately. Seek medical attention within 48 hours if you have the above flu symptoms.