How serious can the flu be?

March 1, 2013


Joseph W. Thompson, MD, MPH
President & CEO


Most people believe that the flu is just like a cold. Some will say to themselves, “I’ll only be sick with a stuffy nose and cough for a few days and recover quickly.” This may or may not be true. No one can tell how serious the flu will be for one person compared to another. Some people may be sick only a few days, and others could be sick for up to two weeks.

Symptoms of the flu are similar to those someone might feel if they have a cold, but, in general, the flu is worse than a cold. With the flu, fever, body aches, fatigue, and dry cough are more common and intense than with a cold. Those with a cold are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose, and colds are usually minor.