Cottage Hospital's HEALTH MATTERS column

Here is our inaugural Health Matters column!

February 2019
Influenza versus the Common Cold
By: Maria Ryan, PhD, APRN
Cottage Hospital Chief Executive Officer

Influenza, referred to as the flu, and the common cold share many of the same symptoms.

The flu and the common cold are caused by viruses. You cannot take an antibiotic for either as these are not bacterial infections.

You may get a stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat with both. Typically, a common cold comes on gradually whereas the flu symptoms happen abruptly. A common cold may last up to 10 or 14 days whereas the flu is less time.

Fever, body aches and chills are more associated with the flu.

I have heard people describe vomiting and diarrhea as the flu. These symptoms are not from influenza but can be in conjunction or a complication of influenza.

Influenza is a serious condition and leads to greater than 80,000 deaths per year. One of the most serious complications of the flu is a bacterial infection of the lungs called pneumonia, which can be treated with antibiotics.

Each year scientist try to predict what type of influenza may occur the following year and they make a vaccine. The vaccine does not always work but it is the best avenue to try to prevent the flu as well as minimizing exposure and frequent hand washing. These viruses are spread by droplet nuclei. This means when someone coughs or sneezes the virus is spread through the air. It is important to wear a mask if you have these symptoms and you are in the general public.

Your provider may prescribe an antiviral medication within the first 48 hours of symptoms/diagnosis of influenza. This antiviral medication does not cure it but can shorten the duration of the virus.

Just because they are caused by a virus it does not mean you are not sick and you don’t feel miserable. You can treat symptoms with Tylenol or Motrin for fever and body aches. Drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest!

Avoid people who are showing symptoms of a cold or influenza!

For more information, contact: Maryanne Aldrich | 603-747-9707


Health Matters is a health related column provided by the staff of Cottage Hospital. If you would like to see a certain topic covered, please call 603.747.9707 or email
Cottage Hospital is a community hospital, located in Woodsville, NH. The hospital has been serving the Upper Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont for over 110 years with a broad range of services.