It’s the FLU!…but is it really?

Everyone’s familiar with that horrible feeling: your sticky eyelids creak open on the morning of the big midterm exam that you’ve been studying for since last week, aaaaand… you’re sick.

Even before your alarm stops blaring in your ear you’re aware of the sore throat, a stuffy nose, and that notorious muscle ache that feels like you ran a triathlon the day before.  Thoughts immediately creep into your mind as you lay in the fetal position staring at the wall, such as “What have I got this time? A stomach bug? Strep throat? Or worse… the flu?”

The flu!  Merely the sound of that despicable word strikes fear into your desolate heart and weeping soul. You recall in vivid, awful detail the time during your childhood that you spent locked inside a dark room—lit by candlelight—with a cold washcloth draped over your forehead, while your mother leans over, spoon-feeding you chicken noodle soup (even though you were way to old for that).  Meanwhile your friends are outside having fun, jeering as they watch you through the window, mocking you with their taunting laughter as they frolic about in the stunning fall weather.

Flashback over.  Now, back in your apartment bedroom, you can almost feel the unendurable blitzkrieg invasion of your body by the battalions of influenza soldiers.  Moaning in tortuous pain, you hack out a violent cough and squirm into the covers, burying your head in agony like an ostrich in the desert sand…ostrich-face

If this scenario describes you perfectly, then we’re here to tell you that you may be overreacting slightly.  In fact, before you go wrap up in a Snuggie with a thermometer, an ice pack on your head, and Netflix pulled up on your laptop, you need to figure out if you really have the flu or just a little cold.

Below, we’ve listed several of the most common symptoms and treatments of the flu as noted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as how these compare with those of the common cold.  In addition, we’ve given you some great information regarding how to acquire a flu shot – the BEST way to prevent an annoying influenza infection.  Remember: if you feel sick, you can always make an appointment to see your primary care physician at the University Health Center.  DO NOT rely solely on this list to make your own diagnosis!

The In-flu-ences of a Cold vs. Flu




Headaches/ Body aches Rare or minor Common; may be severe
Fatigue/Weakness Possible Extremely common; can be long-lasting
Extreme Exhaustion Never Common
Runny-nose or Sneezing Common Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Cough Common Common; a bad cough is more likely to be the flu
Treatment Anti-inflammatory, decongestant, and antipyretic medications; drink lots of fluids and rest Anti-viral medications (work well within the first 48 hours), symptomatic treatment for cough, fever, congestion, etc.  Drink lots of fluids and rest
Prevention is the best treatment!  Both viruses can be prevented by washing your hands regularly and by avoiding contact with people who have recently been infected.

For the flu, there is an annual vaccine that can be administered in order to decrease the likelihood of you developing the virus.  This is by far the best way to avoid the aggravating symptoms, as well as the added stress, that comes along with contracting the flu during the school year.  Unfortunately, the nasal spray that has been used in the past to vaccinate against the flu is no longer offered, due to its inefficacy.

Since bacteria don’t cause either of these illnesses, antibiotics are never prescribed to treat them.


Don’t forget that this list is a precautionary tool only, and you should come see your doctor at the University Health Center if you have any more symptoms, concerns, or questions.

In addition, flu shots may be acquired at UHC!  Since prevention is the best way to treat the flu, these are a fantastic way to keep not only yourself healthy but also the entire UGA campus and community.  Do yourself and your classmates a favor by getting a flu shot: the best flu medicine of all!  To get one, simply log on to the UHC patient portal and make an appointment with your primary care provider.  Make sure to bring a valid UGA ID and a current insurance card for your visit.

For more information about the flu and how to get your flu shot on campus at UGA, visit UHC online.

Stay Calm and #BeWellUGA!

Written by members of the Student Health Advisory Committee
For more information on SHAC, click here.
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