Cold or Flu? Know Your Illness

Upon first exposure, symptoms of a cold or flu may be indistinguishable. Both sicknesses can lead to runny nose, sniffles, and respiratory issues. However, a cold is a relatively minor sickness which generally clears up within a couple of days. Flu, on the other hand, has a tendency to last longer. And while a cold rarely leads to significant health issues, a flu can escalate into serious problems including pneumonia.

cold vs flu

Fever
A fever is typical in cases of flu, however rarely arises with a cold unless there are other complications. A sufferer of the flu may have a temperature in excess of 100 degrees fahrenheit which may last for several days.

Aches
Headaches don’t usually accompany colds, but they are common indicators of flu. The same goes for body aches.

Fatigue
A cold can make you feel rundown for a couple of days, but a flu can pack a more significant wallop, making you feel like you’ve been hit by a train! Exhaustion is a core trait of the flu, and it normally happens in the early stages of the sickness. Flu-induced weakness and fatigue last noticeably longer than the temporary tiredness of a cold.

Sore Throat, Nasal and Respiratory Problems
A raw throat and a runny or stuffed up nose are standard with colds but only sometimes accompany the flu. Coughing is a feature of both cold and flu, yet is usually more significant and longer-lasting with flu.

Stomach Pain
Stomach flu can settle in with abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. These are not common to colds.

Complications
Colds are usually short-lived. Though they can lead to troublesome sinus or ear infections, they don’t usually lead to serious health complications. Flu, however, can devolve into bronchitis or even pneumonia which can in turn lead to heart or respiratory issues significant enough for hospitalization.

For a proper diagnosis, consult a physician. Common tips to support recovery include getting a lot of rest and drinking plenty of fluids.