Stephen F. Austin State University



The flu (influenza), like the common cold, is a contagious respiratory infection. Adults tend to get sick with a cold 2-4 times a year, most commonly between September and April. People get the flu far less often than colds. Most flu sufferers get better within a week or two, but complications from the flu can lead to serious health problems, even death. Peak flu season is usually from December to March.

SFA urges you to take the following actions to protect yourself and others from influenza (the flu):

Take time to get a flu vaccine.

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

Is It a Cold or the Flu?

Below are cold symptoms and flu symptoms. See the differences and similarities between a cold and the flu.

Symptoms Cold Flu
Fever Rare or Mild Characteristic, high (100-102º); lasts three to four days
Headache Rare Common
Body Aches, Pains Slight Usual; often severe
Fatigue, Weakness Sometimes, mild Can last up to two to three weeks
Extreme Exhaustion Never Early and prominent
Stuffy Nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Common Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Chest Discomfort, Cough Mild to moderate Common; can become severe hacking cough
Treatment Treat symptoms Treat symptoms. If diagnosed within 48 hrs of flu symptoms start, Rx and anti-viral medication may shorten how long you're sick. Strongly recommended if high risk (asthma, etc.)
Complications from either a Cold or the Flu: Sinus congestion/infection, asthma flare, bronchitis, pneumonia

Self-care and Treatment of Symptoms:

Seek Medical Advice If . . .