The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses often mimic each other's symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them.  In general, the flu is more serious than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, tiredness, and dry cough are more intense. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems while the flu may be associated with  pneumonia, bacterial infections and may require hospital treatment.

According to Families Fighting Flu, the flu is a serious illness that kills more Americans than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined.

Influenza, or “the flu,” is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract (nose, throat and lungs). The flu is often confused with the common cold, but flu symptoms tend to develop quickly (usually 1 to 4 days after a person is exposed to the flu virus) and are usually more severe than the typical sneezing and congestion associated with a cold.

Influenza is often accompanied with fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

A person infected with the flu virus will typically be affected for around 7 to 10 days.

Each year, between 10 and 20 percent of the U.S. population is infected with the virus. Sometimes, the flu season can be more severe when a major circulating variation of influenza does not match any of the strains selected by  health professionals for the vaccine formulations.

An annual flu vaccination can help prevent the spread of influenza between individuals and may help save lives of those most susceptible of having severe and fatal complications from the flu.  Stay healthy!  Cover up when you sneeze or cough!  Or if someone else looks like they're about to sneeze, duck!  Oh, and wash those hands well.  Did I leave anything out Mom?