What is the difference between influenza (the flu) and norovirus (the stomach flu)?Influenza (the flu) is a respiratory disease that affects your air passages, such as your nasal passages and lungs.Norovirus (the stomach flu) is an intestinal disease that affects your stomach. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed. This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up.While vomiting, diarrhea, and being nauseous or “sick to your stomach” can sometimes be related to influenza — more commonly in children than adults — these problems are rarely the main symptoms of influenza.What is the difference between a cold and the flu?The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone.In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more common and intense.Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.What are the symptoms of the flu versus the symptoms of a cold?The symptoms of flu can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness).Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems.
Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.
If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are in a high risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider (doctor, physician assistant, etc.).
Certain people are at high risk of serious flu-related complications (including young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions). This is true both for seasonal flu and novel flu virus infections. (For a full list of people at high risk of flu-related complications, see People at High Risk of Developing Flu–Related Complications). If you are in a high risk group and develop flu symptoms, it’s best for you to contact your doctor. Remind them about your high risk status for flu.
Health care providers will determine whether influenza testing and treatment are needed. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs that can treat the flu. These drugs work better for treatment the sooner they are started.How long should I stay home if I am sick with the flu?
CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol. You should stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings.(Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/coldflu.htm; https://www.cdc.gov/flu/takingcare.htm; https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/disease.htm#seasonal-flu)