Cold and Flu Basics

A typical cold will last only about 10 days. Sometimes you can wait it out successfully or try different treatment methods until symptoms dissipate. Other times, it might feel like you’re in the grasps of a cold that just won’t let go. That pesky cold could be the flu.

Though they have similar symptoms, these illnesses aren’t the same. Knowing the difference can be vital to getting the proper treatment and preventing the flu from morphing into something more serious, like pneumonia. The elderly, young children, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems are especially susceptible to flu complications.

Understand how your immune system works; learn about the lifespan of the common cold; know when you should stay home sick—and when to seek emergency care—to protect yourself  and your loved ones against the cold and flu.

Fun Facts About Your Immune System

When functioning properly, your immune system protects against disease, infection, and helps you get better after an injury. But even a well-tuned system crashes occasionally.

Is It a Cold or the Flu?

Learn about how each virus works, what symptoms differentiate the conditions, and when it’s important to see your doctor.

When the Flu Turns Deadly

The flu can be particularly dangerous for certain groups of people such as children and the elderly. Find out who’s at greatest risk and what symptoms signal an emergency.

Good vs. Bad Germs

Not all bacteria are harmful. Learn the difference between the germs that make you sick and those that prevent you from getting sick.

Will This Cold Go Away on Its Own?

Learn when to let a virus run its course--and when to seek medical help. Get tips for monitoring your condition and how to best treat it.

When to Stay Home Sick

How do you know when you're no longer contagious? Know what symptoms to look for and when it's important to stay home sick.

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