Huntington, WV
(304) 453-4663

Flu Virus vs. Cold Virus

Flu Virus

flu inservice programThe virus is spread by droplets when an infected person cough, sneezes or talks. These droplets land on the nose or mouth of people nearby and is inhaled into the lungs causing illness. The flu can occasionally be spread by touching an object that has the virus on it and then touching your nose or mouth. The flu virus can be transmitted before and signs and symptoms of illness is present. Usually 1 day prior to getting sick and can be contagious 5-7 days afterwards.

  • Flu Diagnosis: Usually based upon symptons-MD may not order testing.
  • Rapid Flu Test:  Nasal or throat swab-detects for viral antigens. Results within 30 minutes.
  • Flu Treatment: Most of the times go’s away without treatment.  Take medication to relieve symptoms.  Bed rest helps with faster recovery.
  • Antivirals: Tamiflu/Relenza-most effective if taken within 2 days of symptoms.  May shorten illness by 1 day.
  • Antihistamines: Relief from sneezing and nasal discharge.
  • Cough Suppressants: Use as directed
  • Selfcare: Drink plenty of liquids, rest, stay away from others, eat healthy, practice good hygiene.

Cold Virus

The Cold Virus is caused by virus-most common Rhinovirus. Also spread by droplets but, also direct contact-shaking hands, sharing utensils, etc. Symptoms appear 1-3 days after virus exposure. 

  • Treatment:  Care involves managing signs/symptoms.
  • Analgesics: Tylenol or Motrin take as directed.
  • Antihistamines: Reduces allergic reaction. Take as directed.
  • Decongestant Nasal Spray/Cough Suppressants: Take as directed
  • Self Care:  Chicken soup, gargle with warm salt water to soothe sore throats, nasal saline nose drops, lozenges for sore throat.


Get A Flu Shot

This means you may still get the flu as the virus is constantly changing its genetic makeup-but symptoms may be lessened.  Flu shots can be obtained at MD office, Pharmacies or Health Department.

Avoid close contact with others who are sick.  Practice good respiratory hygiene-cover your mouth when coughing/sneezing.  Properly dispose of tissues.

Wash Your Hands Often

Disinfect frequently touched areas and surfaces-door knobs, phones, light fixtures, etc.

Stay Home When You Are Sick

The elderly, people with chronic disease, impaired immunity and the very young whom are exposed to the flu virus can result in hospitalization or be fatal.



SIGNS AND SYMPTONS:                    INFLUENZA                              COLD

ONSET:                                                Abrupt                                     Gradual                

FEVER:                                                 Usual lasts 3-4 days Rare

ACHES:                                                          Usual-often severe                  Slight                   

CHILLS:                                                Fairly common                       Uncommon

FATIGUE/WEAKNESS:                                   Usual                                      Sometimes         

SNEEZING:                                          Sometimes                               Common

STUFFY NOSE:                                     Sometimes                               Common             

SORE THROAT:                                   Sometimes                            Common

CHEST DISCOMFORT:                         Common                                Common             

COUGH:                                               Severe                                    Hacking Cough

HEADACHE:                                        Common                                Rare                     

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