201401-FluSeasonFor Educators, Peace Officers, Firefighters, and Nurses – people who make our communities better – taking time off work for the flu has more repercussions than it does for your average cubicle dweller. That’s why we wanted to share some tips on telling the difference between a cold and the flu, and how you can protect yourself.

As this season’s flu outbreak continues to spread, many are wondering if they actually have the flu, and how can they prevent it from spreading. Both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Web MD agree sometimes it’s hard to tell what is causing your cough, body aches and fever but here are some things to know:

Both colds and the flu are upper respiratory illnesses. A cold is milder and will ease in a few days. Flu symptoms are much more severe, can last up to 10 days and can result in serious health problems like pneumonia and hospitalization. How can someone differentiate between the two?


  • Colds usually last a week.
  • They normally begin with a sore throat that diminishes in a day or two.
  • Fever is very uncommon with colds (except for younger children)
  • A cough usually develops by the fourth or fifth days.


  • Symptoms come on strongly and swiftly
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Severe muscle aches and soreness
  • Congestion and coughs
  • Swine flu also is associated with vomiting and diarrhea

The best ways to prevent the flu is to:

  • Get a flu vaccination
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Avoid others who are sick, and stay home if you are feeling unwell
  • Get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated with water, teas and other non-caffeinated drinks
  • Ask your physician about antiviral drugs that can blunt flu symptoms if prescribed within the first 48 hours of your first symptoms.

One of the best resources about the flu can be found at www.flu.gov.

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