Cup of green tea pouring close up shootThe Centers for Disease Control says the the average adult has about two to three colds per year, compared to younger children who get on average six to eight colds per year. It is important to recognize the difference between a cold and flu here are some common themes you can go by.

Signs of a cold

  • Sore throat
  • Nasal symptoms (like runny nose and congestion)
  • Cough
  • Adults rarely get a fever with a cold but sometimes children are more vulnerable
  • Think of things that predominantly occur above the neck

Signs of the flu

  • Hit you much quicker and harder
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Some viruses involve vomiting and diarrhea
  • Fatigue and weakness

Colds can last around one week, and the flu can stick around a bit longer. The best prevention in both is to WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN WITH SOAP. It too is a good idea to get in the habit of sneezing or coughing into the bend of your elbow as that lessens the spread of these viruses. A flu shot is also an option, and some people find vitamin C effective in gaining immune strength. For the most part, your body’s immune system will kick in and fight it. However, there are times it can progress to something more severe and this is when you want to get your doctor involved. Go see your doctor if a persistent fever, coughing or congestion exist which could mean a sinus infection, or maybe bronchitis. There too are some antiviral medications your doctor may want to try.  Also, please take note of those around you. According to the National Institute of Health, people with a cold are the most contagious for the first two to three day and not longer than the first week of sickness. As for the flu, you are contagious for several days after you physical get sick so if you can, stay at home and rest. The best way to recover is to let your body focus its energy on fighting off the virus and staying hydrated.

Stay healthy everyone!

Karla Heintz (BSc) Nutrition Educator and Author of ‘Picky! Not Me Mom! A parents’ guide to children’s nutrition.