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Home > Health & Wellness > Health Education > What to Remember This Cold & Flu Season
Published on September 18, 2018
As the “season of sickness” approaches, are you armed with the knowledge you need to handle whatever germs come your way? Do you know the differences between a common cold, the flu, and the “stomach flu”? We’re here to help.
The flu and a cold can seem very similar in some ways. Both are contagious, viral infections of the respiratory tract, but the flu (influenza) is much worse. It’s more likely to come on suddenly and bring a fever, aches and/or weakness along with the typical cold symptoms like congestion, sore throat and coughing. The “stomach flu,” on the other hand, is a common term for gastroenteritis, which is the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. This virus may cause cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Influenza is usually at its worst for three or four days. Full recovery may take a week or more, and fatigue may stick around a little longer. It is important that you stay home if you have a flu diagnosis or symptoms. Stay hydrated, rest up, and try to keep from sharing the flu with others. Once your fever is gone for 24 hours, you are no longer contagious.
If you do experience flu-like symptoms, get to your nearest MercyCare Urgent Care clinic or Mercy's ER. You can reduce your wait time at the clinic with eArrival. This convenient service allows patients to check in prior to arrival at the clinic and experience a shorter wait time there as a result.
If you experience difficulty breathing; a persistent fever; vomiting; painful swallowing; or persistent cough, congestion or headache, see your doctor to make sure your flu is not developing into something serious like pneumonia.
Remember: Only bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. Cold and flu are viral, not bacterial. This means a flu shot may be your best bet to battle the bug.
It takes about two weeks for the antibodies in the flu vaccine to develop, so the sooner you can get the shot, the better. You may be a little sore the next day, but it’s a small price to pay to avoid the flu taking you down. Contact your MercyCare family doctor or walk in to any of our six conveniently located urgent care clinics to get your flu vaccine today.
To avoid these illnesses, remember to wash your hands frequently, cover your cough or sneeze, and avoid touching high-traffic surfaces, such as door handles, as much as possible. This animated video has more tips to help kids get on board with flu prevention: