Colds and the flu - what to ask your doctor - adult


Definition

Many different germs, called viruses, cause colds. Symptoms of the common cold include:

The flu is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by the influenza virus.

Many flu symptoms are similar to those of a common cold. Flu can symptoms can also include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your health care provider to help you take care of your cold or flu.

Alternative Names

What to ask your doctor about colds and the flu - adult; Influenza - what to ask your doctor - adult; Upper respiratory infection - what to ask your doctor - adult; URI - what to ask your doctor - adult; H1N1 ("Swine") flu - what to ask your doctor - adult

Questions

What are the symptoms of a cold? What are the symptoms of the flu? How can I tell them apart?

Can I make other people sick? How can I prevent that? What should I do if I have a young child at home? How about somebody who is older?

When will I start to feel better?

What should I eat or drink? How much?

What medicines can I buy to help with my symptoms?

Will antibiotics make my symptoms go away faster?

Are there other medicines that can make the flu go away faster?

How can I keep from getting a cold or the flu?

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key facts about seasonal flu vaccine. Available at: www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm. Updated October 2, 2015. Accessed January 29, 2016.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu: what to do if you get sick. Available at: www.cdc.gov/flu/takingcare.htm. Updated August 14, 2014. Accessed January 29, 2016.

Hayden FG. Influenza. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 364.

Turner RB. The common cold. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 361.


Review Date: 11/1/2015
Reviewed By: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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