How do you know if you have the flu or a cold?

The symptoms of the flu can be similar to symptoms of the common cold. Usually, symptoms of the common cold are milder than flu symptoms.

Symptoms of the flu:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Chills, muscle aches or headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Fever above 100° 

Nausea or vomiting can be a symptom of the flu, but is more common in children. 

Symptoms of the common cold: 

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion or cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • A headache or mild body aches 

Children can have a cold with a fever. In adults, experiencing a cold with a fever is quite rare. 

Free Flu Shots available October 1-31
(while supplies last)

Flu shots for adults, 18 years and older, available 24/7.

Wait time may vary depending on the number of patients being seen, but no appointment is needed.

Please come to the Emergency Department entrance of either:

Saddle Rock ER
22500 E Dry Creek Road
Aurora, CO 80016
Centennial Medical Plaza
14200 E Arapahoe Road
Centennial, CO 80112

What are the best treatments for the flu or treating cold?

To treat either a cold or the flu, get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. Drink warm liquids like tea or hot soup.

The influenza (flu) virus is highly contagious, so someone with flu-like symptoms should stay home and avoid physical contact with others for at least 24 hours after their fever has subsided.

Take medicine to reduce a fever, like ibuprofen or an acetaminophen like Tylenol. Antiviral drugs, which are different than antibiotics, can treat flu illness and are prescribed by a doctor for patients with the flu.  

When should you see a doctor for treatment of the flu?

People who are at high risk for flu-related complications should visit a doctor to receive treatment for the flu. High risk groups include children under 5, adults over age 65, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions.

Signs you need to see a doctor for the flu: 

  • A cough or headache that won't go away or gets worse
  • Fever is not going down or getting better
  • Chest pain or trouble breathing 

For people who are in a high-risk group, the flu virus can turn serious and potentially lead to pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and other medical issues. 

How do you prevent the flu?

The best possible way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months should get the annual flu vaccination. The seasonal flu vaccine protects from the 3-4 influenza viruses that are expected to be the most common during the flu season that year. The flu season runs from October to May and typically peaks in February. 

Emergency medical care in Aurora and surrounding areas

Located east of Denver, The Medical Center of Aurora provides emergency and regular services — including treatment for the flu — to the residents of Aurora the Denver metro area. Contact your doctor for any questions or concerns you may have about the flu and getting vaccinated for the flu season this year.