Analytics ----------------------------------

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Staying Healthy This Cold & Flu Season

I've seen the signs and symptoms everywhere...perpetual runny noses at preschool, hacking/phlegmy coughs while running errands in the stores...cold and flu season is quickly approaching! Whether you choose to immunize for the flu or not this year, it is important to educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of a cold vs. the flu and the typical treatment options available for each.

After an exhausting search and comparison of numerous respected medical sources, I was able to compile the following chart last year as a personal family reference. We kept it on our reference board in the kitchen all season last year for easy access, and I plan to do the same this year. Keep in mind, there are still many similarities between your garden variety seasonal flu and H1N1, but being able to rule in or out the common cold still goes a long way to preserving my peace of mind.

**This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the need for medical advice from a qualified practitioner. If you are experiencing any health related symptoms, seek consultation from your preferred medical provider.



H1N1 Flu


Fever is rare with a cold.

Fever is usually present in 80% or more of all flu cases. A temperature of 100°F or higher for 3-to-4 days is generally associated with the flu.


A hacking, productive (mucus- producing) cough is often present with a cold.

A non-productive, non-mucus producing cough is usually present with the flu. It is sometimes referred to as dry cough.


Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold.

Severe aches and pains are common with the flu.

Stuffy Nose

Stuffy nose is commonly present with a cold and typically resolves spontaneously within a week.

Stuffy nose is not commonly present with the flu.


Chills are uncommon with a cold.

60% of people who have the flu experience chills.


Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold.

Tiredness is moderate to severe with the flu.


Sneezing is commonly present with a cold.

Sneezing is not common with the flu.

Sudden Symptoms

Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days.

The flu has a rapid onset within 3-to-6 hours. The flu hits hard and includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.


A headache is fairly uncommon with a cold.

A headache is very common with the flu, present in 80% of flu cases.

Sore Throat

Sore throat is commonly present with a cold.

Sore throat is not commonly present with the flu.

Chest Discomfort

Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold.

Chest discomfort is often severe with the flu.

Above all else, as with any cold and flu season, proper hand washing should be top priority in every household. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should:

Always wash your hands before:
  • Preparing food
  • Eating
  • Treating wounds or giving medicine
  • Touching a sick or injured person
  • Inserting or removing contact lenses

Always wash your hands after:

  • Preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry
  • Using the toilet
  • Changing a diaper
  • Touching an animal or animal toys, leashes or waste
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Treating wounds
  • Touching a sick or injured person
  • Handling garbage or something that could be contaminated, such as a cleaning cloth or soiled shoes

Of course, it's also important to wash your hands whenever they look dirty.

How To Wash Your Hands:

It's generally best to wash your hands with soap and water. Follow these simple steps:

  • Wet your hands with running water.
  • Apply liquid, bar or powder soap.
  • Lather well.
  • Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Remember to scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • Rinse well.
  • Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel or air dryer.
  • If possible, use your towel to turn off the faucet.

Keep in mind that antibacterial soap is no more effective at killing germs than is regular soap. Using antibacterial soap may even lead to the development of bacteria that are resistant to the product's antimicrobial agents — making it harder to kill these germs in the future.

The Mayo Clinic also provides guidelines for using alcohol-based hand sanitizer as follows:

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers — which don't require water — are an excellent alternative to soap and water. If you choose to use a commercially prepared hand sanitizer, make sure the product contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Then follow these simple steps:

  • Apply enough of the product to the palm of your hand to wet your hands completely.
  • Rub your hands together, covering all surfaces, for up to 25 seconds or until they're dry.

If your hands are visibly dirty, however, wash with soap and water. Antimicrobial wipes or towelettes are another option, although they're not as effective as alcohol-based sanitizers.

Hand washing, whether with soap or hand sanitizer, doesn't take much time or effort, but can go a long way in helping to prevent illness. Adopting this habit withing your own family can play a huge role in keeping your loved ones healthy this winter season (and always!).

Thank you to The Mayo Clinic for some great information regarding proper hand washing!


  1. Such a great reminder and chart too! I have never been a flu shot person until I had Harper...with her chronic health issues, it's just a must. She gets so sick from just a simple cold :( Dreading another cold & flu season.

  2. Thanks, T. This baby came in handy a couple of times last season...saved us some unnecessary trips to the pediatrician (and stays in the "sick" waiting area)!


Related Posts with Thumbnails