Flu vs Cold: How to Tell the Difference?

From aches to chills to coughs, winters are inevitably plagued by those who succumb to infectious illnesses of all sorts due to the frigid weather.

Yet cold and flu viruses can be a problem even indoors and in the summertime. But how do you know the difference between a cold and the flu?

Many people avoid calling their symptoms the flu vs cold even though they are sure they are afflicted. The reason they avoid confirmation is that they think they will be less able to cope if they’ve gotten the ‘big one. But, in fact, it is often hard to tell the difference between the two because neither one of them is fun to have, and both can last for a week or more.

To find out the difference between a cold and flu read below.

Flu vs Cold: How to Tell the Difference

Both cold and flu viruses are contagious and cause similar symptoms, so it can be hard to tell the difference. Here are a few tips to help you figure out which one you’ve got.

Symptoms: What to Look For

Flu symptoms come on suddenly and are usually worse than cold symptoms. Flu symptoms include fever, chills, headache, body aches, sore throat, congestion, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

Cold symptoms, on the other hand, are usually milder and come on gradually. It includes a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and a sore throat. You may also have a cough with a cold, but it is usually not as bad as with the flu.

Differences in Severity

In general, the flu is more severe than a cold, and symptoms such as fever and muscle aches are more common with the flu. Cold symptoms are usually milder and include a runny nose and sore throat. If you are unsure whether you have a cold or the flu, it is best to consult a healthcare professional.

Duration: How Long Will it Last?

The flu vs cold share many similarities, making it difficult to tell them apart. The main difference is the flu is much more severe and lasts longer. A cold will usually last for a week or two, while the flu can last for several weeks.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Check this onsite urgent care if you are pregnant, have a chronic illness, or are elderly. If you are experiencing any of the following, it is best to seek medical attention:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • sudden dizziness
  • severe or persistent vomiting
  • fever and a worse cough

Prevention: What Can You Do?

Prevention is key for both colds and flu, and there are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk. These include washing your hands regularly, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and getting a flu shot.

The Bottom Line on Flu vs Cold

If you’re unsure whether you have flu vs cold, it’s best to seek medical attention. There are a few key differences between cold and flu symptoms.

With a cold, you’re more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose, and your symptoms will come on gradually. With the flu, you’re likely to have a fever, headaches, and extreme fatigue. If you’re feeling really sick, it’s best to see a doctor.

For more on this topic, feel free to check out the rest of our blog!


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