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Is it the Flu? How to Tell the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu

Flu vs. Cold - what are the symptoms?

You’re sniffling, sneezing, coughing and feeling achy. All signs point to it being a cold, but then you think to yourself, “could it be the flu?” It’s hard to be for sure because the two share many of the same symptoms. Here are some basic guidelines on how to spot the difference between a cold and flu symptoms.

How to spot the difference – Cold vs. the Flu

Despite sharing similar symptoms, the flu is not the same as a cold. While they are both viruses, the cold typically has much milder symptoms than the flu. A cold is also less likely to cause complications. The best way to tell the difference is to check your symptoms.

Cold symptoms:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Headaches or body aches
  • Mild tiredness

Flu symptoms:

  • Fever *not everyone who has the flu will run a fever
  • Sore throat
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Headache
  • Stuffy and runny nose
  • Chills
  • Severe muscle or body aches
  • Severe fatigue that may last up to 2 weeks
  • Nausea and vomiting *this is most common in children

Colds affect people gradually. You will notice symptoms show up over a few days and are often pretty mild. It will also get better with 7 to 10 days, but it a cold can last up to two weeks. The flu, on the other hand, comes on quickly. Symptoms can be severe and last up to 2 weeks.

Use this guideline to help you figure out which condition you have. If you feel you might have the flu, please visit your doctor within the first 48 hours of showing symptoms. Premier Medical offers flu shots, if you forgot your this year, it’s not too late!


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