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Winter Weather Health


Sick woman lying in bed with high fever. Cold, flu, fever and migraine

Almost one billion people catch a cold and more than 200,000 people catch the flu every year in the United States.  However, there are some steps you can take to keep you and your family healthy during cold and flu season.

Prevent Illness

The primary means of spreading a cold and the flu is through hand-to-hand contact or from objects that have been touched by someone who is already ill.


The best ways to prevent illness is to:

  • Get a flu shot
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid touching your nose and eyes
  • Do not share utensils or towels at home
  • Wear gloves during the winter cold season while in public places, such as public transportation

The flu shot is widely available at local stores, healthcare providers and at the Board of Health. Click here to learn more about getting a flu shot at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.

Is it a Cold or the Flu?

The common cold and flu are respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. The common cold produces mild symptoms usually lasting only 5-10 days.

Symptoms of a cold include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal and sinus blockage
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Cough

Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between a cold and the flu by symptoms alone but in general the flu is worse than the common cold.

Symptoms of flu include:

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Dry cough

What To Do if Your Family Becomes Sick

  • Stay home if possible
  • Get rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Take over-the-counter medication to reduce fever, coughing, runny and/or stuff nose.  If purchasing medication for a child, check with your healthcare provider about choosing the right medication and giving the right amount.

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

Most healthy people get better from a cold in about 7-10 days.  Some people including children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses are at higher risk of getting really sick from a cold or the flu.  If symptoms become severe or last longer than about 10 days you may have the flu, pneumonia, or another illness that should be reported to your doctor.

Some symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • High fever (greater than 102°F)


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Flu Information
Faces of Influenza (Flu Shot Locator)