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Cold vs. Flu Symptoms: Know The Difference

When you wake up feeling sick, you might think your stuffy nose and sore throat are symptoms of the flu. But it could also be a common cold. Even though they are caused by different viruses, the cold and the flu are both respiratory illnesses. Many of the symptoms appear similar, so it may be difficult to determine which illness you have just by symptoms alone. The general rule of thumb is that colds are milder than the flu and do not generally cause serious health problems. Stave off illness by knowing these key signs of the flu and cold.

What are the symptoms of the flu versus a cold?

Flu symptoms typically include a fast onset of symptoms, fevers/chills, headache and body ache, fatigue, sore throat, and runny nose. Individuals with colds may also experience sore throat, runny nose, and cough, but their symptoms are generally milder, lasting between three and 10 days. One way to determine whether you might have a cold or the flu is to take your temperature. A high fever is common with the flu, but rarely seen with a cold. See the chart below for some more common symptoms of each illness. In general, flu symptoms are much more severe and can cause serious complications by leading to pneumonia or other lung and heart problems.

Staying healthy during cold and flu season

Practicing good hygiene, like washing your hands, may help you stay healthy during peak cold and flu season. Don’t forget about getting a flu shot to help your body better fight off the illness and reduce your symptoms. Most insurances cover the cost of getting a flu shot each year. If you’re already sick, it’s important to call your doctor if you have any severe symptoms or if your symptoms persist. Stop by your closest Midwest Express Clinic location or check-in online, no appointment necessary!

Symptoms of A Cold vs The Flu