Cold or Flu: How to Tell the Difference

Treat A Cold On The Road

Flu season is almost upon us.  Many people confuse the common cold with the flu, however identifying  the signs and symptoms of the common cold verses the flu can help you shorten the duration and severity of the flu.  If you recognize that you’re getting the flu, and seek medical attention early on,  antiviral medication, such as Tamiflu, can be taken to help ease the duration and severity of the flu.

According to the CDC, the flu and common cold are both respiratory illnesses.  Both share similar symptoms, which can make it difficult tell the difference.

Flu symptoms are typically worse than the common cold.  Symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and a dry cough are often associated with the flu.  Cold symptoms are typically less severe.  People with the common cold are likely to develop a runny or stuffy nose and sore throat.

The symptoms of the common cold may develop over a number of days, while the symptoms of the flu often hit fast and hard. People who develop the flu often complain that they symptoms hit them all at once.

Early diagnosis and treatment of the flu is vital.

Signs and Symptoms of the flu:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (very tired)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Signs and Symptoms of the Common Cold:

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Mild headache
  • Mild body aches

Sources:

Flu.gov

CDC

WebMD