What is the Difference Between Influenza and the Common Cold?
Influenza or the flu is one of the most confusing diseases. Whenever a family member becomes ill and there isn’t a diagnosis, it is often labelled “the flu”. However, influenza is a respiratory disease, not the “stomach flu”. People who get influenza have a cough, fever, chills, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. Children can also get ear aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Did you know that most people have one to six colds per year? Children under age 5 years have the most colds because they are constantly being exposed to new cold strains that they have not yet built immunity against. The common cold usually lasts 2 days to 1 week. Fever is uncommon in children over 3 years of age and very rare in adults suffering from a cold.
Children are the biggest spreaders of disease, especially, those under age 5 years, who forget to cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing. Young children have a tendency to put their hands and toys in their mouths, exposing them to other people’s germs.
Because both the cold and influenza are viruses, antibiotics are not prescribed. Good hand washing and careful disposal of tissues is important to limit the spread of disease. The influenza virus can live on hard surfaces such as tables, telephones, and computers for 2 days. The flu virus can survive on unwashed hands for 5 minutes and on tissues or clothing for 8-10 hours.
The best prevention against influenza is to have the flu shot. If sick, stay home from daycare, school, and work. Please do not spread your illness to others.
For further information call Public Health at 376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456, or visit our web site at www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca.
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