A Cold or the Flu?

How do you tell the difference?

The flu and the common cold are both contagious, respiratory illnesses caused by viruses that are not affected by antibiotics. Knowing the differences between the flu and a cold can help you or your loved ones avoid the hospital.

The first sign you may have more than the common cold is a sudden, fast onset of symptoms. The flu is notorious for its ability to suddenly make people feel like they’ve been hit by a truck. Colds, on the other hand, come on more slowly. According to WebMD.com, flu symptoms typically improve in 2 to 5 days but cold symptoms can last a week to 10 days.

Both viruses can develop into more serious conditions. A cold can lead to infections in the ears and sinuses but the flu can do much more damage. WebMD reports that flu complications include: bacterial pneumonia; dehydration; ear and sinus infections - especially in children. The flu can worsen long-term medical conditions, like congestive heart failureasthma, or diabetes. You might also experience muscle inflammation (myositis), problems with your central nervous system, and heart problems such as heart attacks, inflammation of the organ (myocarditis), and inflammation of the sac around it (pericarditis).

“Every year more than 200,000 people in the U.S. wind up in the hospital because of the flu. Tens of thousands die. Infants, the elderly and people with certain diseases or weakened immune systems are most at risk but a flu emergency can happen to anyone,” reports WebMD.com.

How can I get tested?

You can order your own test right now, without consulting a health care provider. Simply choose the Influenza Test, pay for it and our board-certified physician will authorize you to have the test performed. After you order the test, you will receive a laboratory requisition in your email that you can bring with you to more than 50 convenient Health Network Laboratory locations where we will perform the test.

When your results are ready, we will let you know. Your test results are secure, confidential and available to only you. You can choose if you want to share your results with anyone else, including your doctor.

Please note, we do not accept insurance at this time. 

Symptoms at a GlanceSymptoms at a Glance