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Cold vs. Flu

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.

What is the difference between a cold and flu?

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, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can have very serious associated complications, such as pneumonia and dehydration.

How can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?

Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can tell if a person has the flu.

What are the symptoms of the flu versus the symptoms of a cold?

The symptoms of flu can include fever or feeling feverish/having 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 and sneezing. The flu is more likely to keep one in bed, and usually you will not want to go to school or work.

Is it a cold or flu?



What should I do if I think I have the flu, or if I can’t tell whether it’s cold or flu?


In either case, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids and get enough rest. If you think it could be the flu, come see us at Premier Urgent Care and we can run a quick test. If you do have the flu, it’s important to get treatment quickly to minimize the length of the illness. Those who live with you may need to have preventive treatment, as well.