Is It The Cold or The Flu?

Sponsored Post By: HCA East Florida Hospitals
The cold and flu can present similar symptoms, but there are differences parents should be aware of. Our local HCA East Florida Hospitals are here to help our school community navigate this flu season with important information. Let’s start 2020 on a healthy and happy note!

What is a cold?

A cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. There are more than 200 strains that could potentially affect your family each year. The most common strain is the rhinovirus, which accounts for at least 50% of all colds. Additional viruses include coronavirus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, and parainfluenza.

Colds typically develop gradually and spread from person to person via:

  • Coughs or sneezes in the form of airborne respiratory droplets
  • Contaminated surfaces (toys or door knobs)
  • Saliva (shared drinks or kisses)
  • Skin-to-skin contact (hugs or handshakes)

The most common cold symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Running or stuffy nose
  • Scratchy/sore throat
  • Watery eyes

What is the flu?

The flu is a very contagious respiratory illness that infects the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It is caused by one of the four influenza viruses: A, B, C, or D. The most common influenza strains seen in the U.S. are influenza A and B.

The flu typically has a sudden and severe onset, which can cause serious complications such as pneumonia or hospitalization, especially for the following high-risk groups: young children, older adults, pregnant women, and individuals with underlying medical problems and weakened immune system. According to the CDC, the 2017-18 flu season resulted in roughly 60,000 deaths. Therefore, it is imperative that the following signs and symptoms are monitored closely and treated accordingly by medical professionals:

  • Fever – feverish chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Prevention is key!

While we cannot prevent all illnesses our families encounter, there are some ways we can prevent the spreading of them. We encourage you to consider the following preventative measures:

  • Frequent and thorough handwashing
  • Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • Getting the flu shot

Do natural remedies really work?

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the following natural remedies have shown some promise when treating the symptoms of a cold: oral zinc, honey, vitamin C, probiotics, rinsing of the nose/sinuses, and meditation. Unfortunately, no natural remedy has shown to be helpful when fighting the flu.


Whether the cold or flu has made its way into your home, we recommend erring on the side of caution by calling your doctor/pediatrician first or visiting the nearest urgent care clinic/emergency room.

For additional health tips and to find your closest HCA East Florida Hospital, visit HCAEastFlorida.com or call our 24/7 free nurse advice hotline at 954-724-6349. Locations: Northwest Medical Center (Margate), University Hospital and Medical Center (Tamarac), Plantation General Hospital (Plantation), and Westside Regional Medical Center (Plantation)

Stay healthy, Eagles!
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