cold versus flu

For patients, it is often difficult to tell the difference between a common cold or the flu (influenza). They are both respiratory illnesses and share similar symptoms. However, a common cold and the flu are caused by different viruses.

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

You may not be able to tell the difference 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.

In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more common and intense. 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. Flu can have very serious associated complications, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.

If you’re not sure whether you have a cold or the flu and need medical attention, use our Online Check-In now to book an appointment to see a provider.

Source: CDC Seasonal Flu