Although often confused with the common cold, influenza is more severe and poses a greater health concern. Every year, an estimated 17 million to 50 million cases of influenza are reported nationwide — many of which occur in otherwise healthy people.
Similar to the common cold, the flu can produce respiratory symptoms, such as runny nose, coughing, and sore throat. However, the influenza virus typically causes more intense symptoms, such as sudden onset of fever, headache, and muscle aches in children, adolescents, and adults.
Unlike symptoms of the common cold, the fatigue and cough caused by the flu can last more than two weeks — lingering long after other symptoms subside. Children often spend a week or more in bed due to the flu. It may also lead to serious complications such as pneumonia and even death.
What’s the difference? Watch out for these symptoms! If you, a senior or your children experience any of these conditions, please consult a health care professional.
|Fever||Rare||Usual; high fever (102 ° F/39 ° C - 104 ° F, 40 ° C), sudden onset, lasts 3 to 4 days.|
|Headache||Rare||Usual; can be severe|
|Muscle aches and pain||Sometimes, generally mild||Usual; often severe|
|Tiredness and weakness||Sometimes, generally mild||Usual; severe, may last up to 2 to 3 weeks|
|Extreme tiredness||Unusual||Usual; early onset, can be severe|
|Runny, stuffy nose||Common||Common|
|Chest discomfort, coughing||Sometimes, mild to moderate||Usual, can become severe.|
|Complications||Can lead to sinus congestion or infection, and ear aches.*||Can lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure, and become life-threatening. Can worsen a chronic condition.|
|Prevention||Frequent hand washing||Annual immunization and frequent hand washing|
|*Colds do not generally result in serious health problems such as pneumonia or bacterial infections.|
Help us Protect Those You Love! How?
- Get the Flu Shot
- Wash Your Hands
- Cover your Mouth when you Cough or Sneeze
- Don’t Touch Your Face
- If you are sick, Stay Home & Rest
- Clean & Disinfect Hard Surfaces & Shared Items Regularly
(1) Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. About the Flu. Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2010.