H1N1 vs Seasonal Flu vs Common Cold

The common cold, Seasonal Flu and H1N1 are all infections. H1N1 and Seasonal Flu are different strains of influenza, and may be fatal, while the common cold itself is a rarely fatal infection.


North American/Human flu has not been found before among the health community. This fact makes recent discoveries of H1N1 a disturbing surprise.

Disturbing because our seasonal flu virus has been around a while so many people, especially those over 30 or 40 years old have varied degrees of immunity to it.

H1N1 being new to us could mean more people who come in contact with the virus might come down with the illness.

It is generally believed that seasonal flu causes perhaps as many as 36,000 yearly deaths, but how many of those are attributable to already existing illnesses, we do not know. Some people might have died, even without the flu.

Records indicate as many as 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year, yet again we do not know of pre-existing illnesses. They might have been hospitalized for other illnesses such as asthma, high blood pressure, etc.

So far, there have not been enough cases in North America to predict all H1N1’s characteristics, thus the mortality rate to the population in general is unknown.

Obviously, it is a good idea to take care of ourselves. Public alert is not the same as Public panic.

Take care of yourself by eating properly and getting enough sleep, avoid crowded places with poor ventilation.

Pandemic Defined

A Pandemic which we are far from, requires 3 things.

* The virus must be new.

* It must be able to infect humans.

* It has to spread easily.

Do not panic. Remember this is not an entirely new virus. Yes it can infect people, however we can to a great degree, do much to avoid it’s spreading.

The good news is that H1N1 is a mild virus which responds readily to typical flu medication like Tamiflu. One caveat, Tamaflu needs to be taken within the first 48 hours of developing symptoms to be most effective.

H1N1 Flu Symptoms

* Onset: H1N1 usually comes on slowly

* Fever of around 100 degrees present up to 80% of the time

* Aches and pains mild

* Stuffy nose not common

* Chills average 90% of the time

* Fatigue moderate to severe

* Cough non-productive (non-mucus producing, sometimes referred to as dry cough).

* Runny Nose varies

* Fatigue mild

* Vomiting unlikely

* Diarrhea unlikely but can be mild if present

Seasonal Flu Symptoms

* Onset: Seasonal Flu symptons appear within 72 hours

* Fever over 100 degrees or higher almost always

* Aches and pains severe

* Stuffy nose not common

* Chills common in early stage

* Fatigue usually severe

* Cough is mucus producing

* Runny nose varies

* Fatigue moderate to extreme

* Vomiting depends on severity of case

* Diarrhea possible but usually of short duration

Cold Symptoms

* Symptoms of a cold tend to develop over a period of days

* Fever is rare

* Hacking cough is productive (mucus-producing) cough often present

* Slight body aches and pains may be present

* Stuffy nose common, typically resolves spontaneously within a week

* Chills are uncommon

* Fatigue is fairly mild with a cold

* Sneezing commonly present up to 4 or 5 days

No matter which infection you have, you should practice good persona hygiene, wash your hands often, with soap. Cover your mouth if you cough or nose if you sneeze, with your arm rather than hands.

If you feel ill, national health officials recommend avoiding crowds. They say to stay home from school or work if you are really sick.

Claudia Strasbaugh was a freelance writer who founded Scripps Ranch/Mira Mesa Writer’s Guild, was head writer for the weekly TV show “Kill ‘EM With Comedy,” plus California Bureau Chief for National Lotto World Magazine. Claudia also ran a nonprofit called Dinner On A Dollar. Sadly, Claudia passed away in 2015, but we are pleased to display her writing works.