Cold Vs Flu – Do You Have a Flu or Cold?

Cold vs Flu

When you have a running nose, you sneeze than is normal and are coughing; you may be wondering whether you have a cold or flu. These two ailments are somehow difficult to tell apart. However, there are some remarkable differences between cold vs flu. The first difference that you need to understand is that they are both respiratory illnesses which are caused by different viruses. For this reason, they will affect you differently even though there are some symptoms that can be somewhat similar. The flu is generally more serious when compared to the common cold.

It is difficult to tell whether the condition an individual is suffering from is a cold or flu based only on symptoms displayed. Nonetheless, if your symptoms are more intense and are causing you more problems, it probably is flu. Colds will usually present with a stuffy or even runny nose. A person with a cold may not necessarily cough a lot. On the other hand, the flu symptoms are more intense. For example, aside from the irritation of the nose, you may experience body aches, extreme fatigue, intense coughs and serious fevers. Hence, if you are suffering from flu, you are likely to feel more poorly than you would if you caught a cold.

When flu is not handled well in its early stages, it could lead to more serious and complex health problems. Remember that at the time when you have flu, your immune system is very poor. Hence, such problems like chest complications, pneumonia and bacterial infections could easily result. Many people who catch flus at one point or the other may usually have to be hospitalised in the event that the ailments set in and their health deteriorate. For a cold on the other hand, some OTC drugs are sufficient to relieve symptoms and bring about quick recovery.

There is also a difference in the manner of development of the two illnesses in a person. The symptoms of a cold take a bit more time to build up in an individual. In the event of flu, the symptoms set in a lot more rapidly and this too may be a factor in the marked seriousness of the condition. For a cold, the problem may start with a sore throat which may then abate for a few days. After this, nasal irritations may present followed by a runny nose. Congestion and coughing may also set in in the subsequent days. On the other hand in the event of flu, sore throat, muscle aches, fever, congestion, headaches and serious coughs may wear you down a lot faster. There may be even some extreme symptoms like diarrhoea and vomiting.

Over a couple of days, the symptoms of both cold and flu seem to abate. Usually for a cold, this may take one week or less. For most people with flu, they feel run down for a longer duration.

Treatment is definitely a lot more difficult for flu. There are different flu strains and sometimes it gets crucial to determine the exact one a patient is suffering from.  Click here to learn more about flu treatments.

To compare cold and flu symptoms, see the chart below and learn the similarities and differences between the two.  If your conditions are severe or if you have a flu, you should contact your physicians.

Symptoms Cold Flu
Fever Rare Characteristic, high (100-102 degrees F); lasts three to four days
Headache Rare Prominent
General Aches, Pains Slight Usual; often severe
Fatigue, Weakness Quite mild Can last up to two to three weeks
Extreme Exhaustion Never Early and prominent
Stuffy Nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Chest Discomfort, Cough Mild to moderate; hacking cough Common; can become severe
Complications Sinus congestion or earache Bronchitis, pneumonia; can be life-threatening
Prevention Good hygiene Annual flu shot or FluMist
Treatment Only temporary relief of symptoms Antiviral drugs (Tamiflu or or Relenza) within 24-48 hours of onset

Source:  WebMD

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