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What's the difference between a cold and flu?

The common cold and the flu are both respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. In general, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more intense. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can have very serious associated complications.

Get the Treatment you Need

Antiviral medications are normally used to treat flu illness. Antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time of sickness by 1 or 2 days, and can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. Your Alpha Provider will not prescribe antibiotics for viral infections like the common cold, and may refer you to an in-person clinical visit if they are concerned that you may have conditions like strep throat or pneumonia. Please note that the one-time medical fee is non-refundable.

Antiviral Medication
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  • Oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu®)
  • Zanamivir (Relenza®)
  • Peramivir (Rapivab®)
  • Baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza®)

Suffering from a cold or the flu? Alpha Providers can help.

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Learn About Cold & Flu

What can you do to protect yourself and others from the cold and flu? Learn from our Alpha Providers.

How can you prevent the flu from spreading?
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Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can travel up to 6-26 feet and land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it like desks, doorknobs, steel handrails, and toys and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. The best way to prevent the flu is by washing your hands frequently, and getting the flu vaccination.
What are antiviral medications?
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Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, an inhaled powder, or an intravenous solution) that fight against flu viruses in your body. Antiviral drugs are not sold over-the-counter and can only be prescribed by a health care provider. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections.

What are the benefits of the flu vaccination?
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The flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with the flu, can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization for children and adults, and may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

Have you tested positive for COVID-19?

Under an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization), the FDA has authorized the use of PAXLOVID™ for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and children (12 and older) who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.
Learn More

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