Symptoms of the common cold are a runny nose, nasal congestion, and sneezing. You may also have a sore throat, cough, headache, or other symptoms. Many different germs, called viruses, cause colds.
The flu is an infection of the nose, throat, and (sometimes) lungs caused by the influenza virus.
Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse to help you take care of your cold or flu.
What are the symptoms of a cold? What are the symptoms of the flu? How can I tell them apart?
Can I make other people sick? How can I prevent that? What should I do if I have a young child at home? How about somebody who is older?
When will I start to feel better?
What should I eat or drink? How much?
What medicines can I buy at the store to help with my symptoms?
Will antibiotics make my symptoms go away faster?
Are there other medicines that can make the flu go away faster?
How can I keep from getting a cold or the flu?
What to ask your doctor about colds and the flu - adult; Influenza - what to ask your doctor - adult; Upper respiratory infection - what to ask your doctor - adult; URI - what to ask your doctor - adult; 2009 H1N1 (“Swine”) flu - what to ask your doctor - adult
Turner RB. The common cold. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 369.
Hayden FG. Influenza. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 372.
Key facts about seasonal flu vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm. Accessed January 10, 2014.
The flu: what to do if you get sick. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/takingcare.htm. Accessed January 10, 2014.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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