Cold vs Flu Facts and Symptoms

The leaves are falling and the sun is going down sooner everyday.  Fall is here and Winter is not far behind which means that the Cold and Flu season is approaching quickly.  Often times it is difficult for people to tell the difference between a common cold and the influenza, but this helpful chart from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease is a great resource which breaks down the different symptoms associated with Colds and the Flu.


Is It a Cold or the Flu?


Symptoms Cold Flu
Fever Rare Usual; high (100°F to 102°F; occasionally higher, especially in young children); lasts 3 to 4 days
Headache Rare Common
General Aches, Pains Slight Usual; often severe
Fatigue, Weakness Sometimes Usual; can last up to 2 to 3 weeks
Extreme Exhaustion Never Usual; at the beginning of the illness
Stuffy Nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Chest Discomfort, Cough Mild to moderate; hacking cough Common; can become severe
Treatment Antihistamines
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines
Antiviral medicines— see your healthcare provider
Prevention Wash your hands often with soap and water; Avoid close contact with anyone with a cold Annual vaccination; antiviral medicines—see your healthcare provider
Complications Sinus infection
Middle ear infection
Bronchitis, pneumonia; can worsen chronic conditions; can be life threatening. Complications more likely in the elderly, those with chronic conditions, young children, and pregnant women