What’s the difference between a Cold and the Flu?

In anticipation of the upcoming flu season, Piedmont Urgent Care by WellStreet locations have the flu vaccine in stock and available to help protect you and your family!! We are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with convenient weekend and night hours to help you feel better. The flu vaccine is the traditional, trivalent vaccine and is approved for children >4 years old and for all adults.

What should I do to prepare for this flu season?
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. Be sure to get your flu vaccine early so that you are protected throughout the flu season!

When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?
Seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May. It most commonly reaches its peak in January or February.

Can the vaccine give you the flu?
No. The traditional flu “shot” does not contain a live virus. It is clinically impossible to “get the flu” from the flu vaccine. Occasionally, some patients will feel a little achy after the vaccine due to activation of the immune system.

What’s the difference between the cold and the flu?
The common cold shares many of the same symptoms of the flu, but the severity of symptoms in patients with influenza is dramatically different. Below are the hallmark symptoms of the flu:

  • Sudden onset
  • Severe body aches
  • High fever & Shaking chills
  • Painful dry cough
  • Runny nose, Congestion, & Sneezing
  • Headache
  • Severe fatigue

I thought the flu caused vomiting and diarrhea?
While it’s true that mild nausea, occasional vomiting and stomach upset are common in influenza, profuse vomiting and diarrhea are not. There is often confusion between the “stomach flu” and “seasonal flu / influenza”. These two conditions are caused by very different viruses and are treated in very different ways.

I got the flu vaccine last year and I got “the flu” anyway, so why should I get vaccinated?
The flu vaccine has an efficacy rate of approximately 70-80%. Cases that do slip by the vaccine are generally milder, do not last as long, and have a far lower risk of complications. The flu vaccine only prevents infection by the influenza virus. There are hundreds of other viruses that produce “flu-like illness” that the vaccine cannot prevent. If you do become sick with the flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading influenza to others.

If I do get the flu, is there anything that you can do to treat the Flu?
There are medications and options for treating the flu and its corresponding symptoms. Some medications, like the antiviral medicine Tamiflu®, are targeted at reducing the replication of virus in your body. When started in the first 48 hours of illness, these medicines have been shown to lower the severity and duration of the flu, as well as prevent complications. A Piedmont Urgent Care by WellStreet physician can help determine if you are experiencing any additional complications related to the flu, such as pneumonia or dehydration, while prescribing the treatment option that is best for you.

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