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Cold versus the Flu - Here's the Difference

During the fall and winter months colds and the flu (influenza) can affect many people. Colds are not as severe
as the flu. Complications from the flu can be life threatening for the elderly and for people with chronic
illnesses. Children aged 6-23 months are at greater risk for complications and hospitalization because of the
flu.
So how do you know if you have a cold or the flu? Check the chart below for some of the major differences
between the two illnesses:
Symptom

Cold

Influenza

Fever

Rare

Usual; high fever (102 F/39 C 104 F, 40 C), sudden onset, lasts
3 to 4 days.

Headache

Rare

Usual; can be severe

Muscle aches
and pains

Sometimes, generally
mild

Usual; often severe

Tiredness and
weakness

Sometimes, generally
mild

Usual; severe, may last up to 2 to 3


weeks

Extreme
tiredness

Unusual

Usual; early onset, can be severe

Runny, stuffy
nose

Common

Common

Sneezing

Common

Sometimes

Sore throat

Common

Common

Chest
discomfort,
coughing

Sometimes, mild to
moderate

Usual, can become severe.

Complications

Can lead to sinus


congestion or
infection, and ear
aches.*

Can lead to pneumonia and


respiratory failure, and become lifethreatening. Can worsen a chronic
condition.

Prevention

Frequent hand
washing

Annual immunization and frequent


hand washing

*Colds do not generally result in serious health problems such as pneumonia or bacterial infections.

Cold vs. the Flu


Name___________________________________________

Date________________

Hour_____

Use the article, Cold vs. the Flu to answer the following questions:
_____ 1. The cold and flu virus usually impacts most people during the fall and
_____________ months.
a. summer

b. Spring

c. winter

_____ 2. Which type of people are most at risk to get the flu?
a. infants/toddlers
are correct

b. elderly c. people with chronic illnesses

d. all answers

_____ 3. Which symptom is rare for people that have a cold?


a. fever

b. runny, stuffy nose

c. sneezing

d. sore throat

_____ 4. Which symptoms are common for both a cold and the flu?
a. fever
throat

b. headache

c. extreme tiredness

d. sore

_____ 5. People that get the flu virus often can have a high fever for:
a. 3-4 hours

b. 3-4 days

c. 3-4 weeks

d. 3-4 years

_____ 6. The flu can often lead to _____________________ and respiratory failure.
a. diabetes

b. high blood pressure c. pneumonia

d. depression

7. Sometimes a cold can lead to infections or issues with what other two parts of the
face/head?
(complete sentences please)

8. What two things can be done to prevent someone from getting the flu virus?
(complete sentences please)