Do I have the flu? Flu Season: What You Need to Know

This year's flu season is one of the worst in more than a decade. Like most hospitals, we are also experiencing an increase in the number patients worried that they or a loved one has the flu. We know you have questions. Below is information you need to know during this flu epidemic:

What may seem like the flu, could, in fact, be a cold. Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. A common cold is relatively harmless and clears up by itself over time.

Be aware of these differences:

Cold symptoms

Flu symptoms

Low or no fever

High fever

Sometimes a headache

Always a headache

Stuffy, runny nose

Clear nose or stuffy nose


Sometimes sneezing

Mild, hacking cough

Cough, often becoming severe

Slight aches and pains

Often severe aches and pains

Mild fatigue

Several weeks of fatigue

Sore throat

Sometimes a sore throat

Normal energy level

Extreme exhaustion

If you have the flu, the emergency room may not be your best option. Seek immediate medical attention when in doubt. Know as well that emergency room doctors must care for people with life-threatening illnesses first. Urgent care or a trip to your doctor may be the better option.

Want to learn more about the flu?

The resources below can help you stay healthy or get better sooner:

Montefiore Patient Health Library
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Flu Vaccinations: Your First Line of Defense