How to Tell a Cold From the Flu

CDC shares symptoms to help differentiate the flu from a common cold. Plus, an easy tool to help find available flu shots near you.

Time for a flu shot? (Patch File Photo)
Time for a flu shot? (Patch File Photo)

Does seems like everywhere you go, someone is blowing their nose or coughing? 

If you’re feeling under the weather, is it a cold or the flu?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta recently updated its Flu Symptoms information, and you can use the tool with this story to find where to get a flu shot in and around Fairfax.

Here is the latest from the CDC:

Influenza Symptoms

Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

•  Fever* or feeling feverish/chills

•  Cough

•  Sore throat

•  Runny or stuffy nose

•  Muscle or body aches

•  Headaches

•  Fatigue (tiredness)

•  Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.


Flu Complications

Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.

Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.


People at Higher Risk from Flu

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

Annual Flu Deaths

Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older.

Where to Get a Flu Shot in Fairfax

If you don't get your flu shot from your assigned medical provider, there are countless places around Fairfax you can walk in and get one with no appointment, usually for a nominal fee of around $25 or so.

Some places in the 22030 zip code include CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Giant and Safeway grocery stores, and more.

Click on the Flu Shot tool above in the photos section, which will take you to the Flu Shot Locator section of the Flu.gov website. Then, type in your full address or just your zip code on the right to find the places closest to you.


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