Cold & Flu

We treat and help you manage these common viral infections

Each year, millions of Americans miss work and school because they have a cold or flu (influenza) infection. Viruses cause the common cold and flu so antibiotics cannot treat them.

In order to seek proper medical care, you must understand the differences between the cold and flu. At Indiana University Health, our highly skilled providers will work with you to protect your family from these viruses and help you recover quickly if you become ill.

Cold Symptoms

When suffer from a cold, you often have:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Mild cough
  • Possible fatigue
  • No fever or headache

While no treatment exists to shorten the length of a cold, you can often manage symptoms with over-the-counter medications. Colds often go away on their own, usually without causing further complications or infections. You might experience multiple colds each year.

Flu Symptoms

The flu often produces more severe symptoms than a cold. With the flu, you often have:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Heavy coughing
  • Aches
  • Fatigue
  • No nasal congestion

When severe enough, symptoms of the flu can require hospitalization. Without proper care, the flu can be deadly. You should seek medical attention for high fevers or if you have other medical conditions that the flu may complicate including diabetes, asthma or congestive heart failure. You can get the flu multiple times each year.

Prevention

Each year, scientists develop a new flu vaccine because the viruses that cause the flu constantly change. Once the virus has changed, your past immunization may not prevent you from getting sick. You should receive a flu shot each year for protection.

Overview

Cold Symptoms

When suffer from a cold, you often have:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Mild cough
  • Possible fatigue
  • No fever or headache

While no treatment exists to shorten the length of a cold, you can often manage symptoms with over-the-counter medications. Colds often go away on their own, usually without causing further complications or infections. You might experience multiple colds each year.

Flu Symptoms

The flu often produces more severe symptoms than a cold. With the flu, you often have:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Heavy coughing
  • Aches
  • Fatigue
  • No nasal congestion

When severe enough, symptoms of the flu can require hospitalization. Without proper care, the flu can be deadly. You should seek medical attention for high fevers or if you have other medical conditions that the flu may complicate including diabetes, asthma or congestive heart failure. You can get the flu multiple times each year.

Prevention

Each year, scientists develop a new flu vaccine because the viruses that cause the flu constantly change. Once the virus has changed, your past immunization may not prevent you from getting sick. You should receive a flu shot each year for protection.

IU Health has the largest network of primary care and specialty physician practices throughout Indiana to help families stay well. Your primary care teams will work with you to maintain overall wellbeing and prevent illness. Throughout cold and flu season, your physicians will provide education on infection prevention, keep your immunizations up to date and offer you symptom relief.

If your symptoms concern you or you want to know whether you have the cold or flu, seek help from an IU Health Primary Care physician.

IU Health Primary Care physicians offer the following services to help prevent and manage cold and flu illnesses, including:

  • Immunizations: Though no vaccine exists for the common cold, each year a new flu vaccine is released. You and your family members over the age of six months should receive a flu vaccine each year.
  • Education. IU Health Primary Care physicians offer reliable resources for education on illness prevention including hand washing, nutrition and fitness tips.
  • Urgent care services: We offer high quality urgent care services throughout the state so you have access to our physicians when you need them.
  • Over-the-counter medications. We can suggest medications to reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms and give advice on how to safely take these medications.
  • Antiviral medications: Some medications may shorten the duration and lessen the severity of flu symptoms. However, these medications are not suitable for everyone and work best when taken within two days of the first flu symptoms.

Treatment

IU Health has the largest network of primary care and specialty physician practices throughout Indiana to help families stay well. Your primary care teams will work with you to maintain overall wellbeing and prevent illness. Throughout cold and flu season, your physicians will provide education on infection prevention, keep your immunizations up to date and offer you symptom relief.

If your symptoms concern you or you want to know whether you have the cold or flu, seek help from an IU Health Primary Care physician.

IU Health Primary Care physicians offer the following services to help prevent and manage cold and flu illnesses, including:

  • Immunizations: Though no vaccine exists for the common cold, each year a new flu vaccine is released. You and your family members over the age of six months should receive a flu vaccine each year.
  • Education. IU Health Primary Care physicians offer reliable resources for education on illness prevention including hand washing, nutrition and fitness tips.
  • Urgent care services: We offer high quality urgent care services throughout the state so you have access to our physicians when you need them.
  • Over-the-counter medications. We can suggest medications to reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms and give advice on how to safely take these medications.
  • Antiviral medications: Some medications may shorten the duration and lessen the severity of flu symptoms. However, these medications are not suitable for everyone and work best when taken within two days of the first flu symptoms.

Patient Stories for Cold & Flu

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