Cold Versus Flu | How to Tell the Difference Between Cold and Flu

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Flu and cold are both respiratory diseases but caused by different viruses. Because these two types of diseases have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them. Read more to find out, cold versus flu, how to tell the difference between cold and flu.

Cold Versus Flu? How to tell the difference


Generally, flu is worse than a common cold, and the symptoms are more intense. Colds are usually lighter than flu. People with cold are more likely to have a runny nose. Normally, cold does not lead to serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalizations. Flu can have very serious associated complications.

Also Read: What does sugar do to your hair, the connection between sugar and hair loss.

How to Tell the Difference Between Cold and Flu? Cold Versus Flu

Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based only on the symptoms. Special tests that usually need to be done in the early days of the disease can tell if a person has the flu.

When to go to the doctor if you have flu or cold symptoms?

If you already have flu or cold symptoms it is important to call your doctor if you have any of the following severe symptoms:

  • Persistent Fever: Fever lasting more than 3 days may be a sign of another bacterial infection that must be treated.
  • Painful Swallowing: Although a sore throat caused by a cold or flu can cause mild discomfort, and severe pain requires treatment prescribed by the doctor.
  • Persistent Cough: When a cough does not go away after two or three weeks, it may be bronchitis, which may need an antibiotic. Most sinus infections, however, does not require an antibiotic.

In some cases, you may need to get emergency medical care immediately. | How to tell the difference between cold and flu, cold versus flu

In adults, the signs of a crisis include:

  • Severe chest pain
  • Severe headaches
  • Breathing problems
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Persistent vomiting

In children, the signs that you must go to the doctor urgently are:

  • Breathing difficulties or rapid breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Irritability
  • Fever with rash
  • Symptoms that improved and then worsened sharply
  • Lethargy and failure in normal interaction
  • Not drinking enough fluids

Common Cold Symptoms

Cold symptoms usually begin with a sore throat, which usually disappears after a day or two. There are nasal symptoms, runny nose and congestion, along with a cough on the fourth and fifth day. Fever is unusual in adults, but a mild fever is possible. Children are more likely to have a fever with a cold.

With symptoms of cold the nose presents aqueous nasal secretions for the first days. Later, they become thicker and darker. Dark mucus is natural and does not usually mean that you have developed a bacterial infection, such as a sinus infection.

Common Flu Symptoms

Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the airways of the lungs, being one of the most severe and common viral diseases of the winter season.

Influenza symptoms start suddenly and may include: Cold versus flu

  • High fever – 40 degrees Celsius;
  • Chills
  • Myalgia (muscle pain)
  • Headache (headache)
  • Dysphagia (sore throat)
  • Cough drying frequency
  • General condition altered

The symptoms described above about cold versus flu last on average 3-4 days, coughing may persist for 1-2 weeks. Young children may experience abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, high fever, irritability.

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