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Cold vs. Flu

Definitions, definitions ... when you're sick and aching all over you want to head straight for a doctor, not a dictionary! But there are very important differences between the flu and common cold, so take note! Having a cold usually means having a stuffy nose and sore throat, along with a mild-to-moderately uncomfortable feeling in your chest. You'll probably be sneezing, coughing, and feeling a bit achy, too. 



The flu, on the other hand, can mean really bad news. Yes, the flu makes you sneeze. It can also give you a stuffy nose and sore throat. But unlike a common cold, it'll often give you a big headache, a hacking cough, a 3-to-4-day-long fever, and muscle aches all over. The flu can also make you feel nauseous, depressed, and really exhausted. And things can get even worse if this all leads to pneumonia, a dangerous complication. But thankfully there is a vaccine against the flu. (Unlike the common cold, which modern medicine still doesn't have a cure for!) A flu shot will reduce your chances of getting the disease by 60-80%. Check with your doctor to find out the time frame of when flu shots are given out. 



More good news: when it comes to relieving symptoms, the flu and common cold have much in common. In both cases, you should drink plenty of water, juice, and other fluids to replenish the supply of moisture to your nose and throat; after all, you'll need a steady flow of secretions to help flush away viruses from your body. (So don't forget your grandma's age-old cure, chicken soup!) And get plenty of rest--you'll nurture your immune system so it'll be back in fine form to fight harder for you.