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Flu Symptoms vs. Cold Symptoms Chart: How to I.D. Your Illness

Flu season comes around every year...each seemingly worse than the one that came before it. You can’t turn on the TV without hearing the latest update on the number of reported flu cases. It's a lot of hype and borderline fear mongering, that's for sure, but you can't ignore the potential seriousness of getting sick.

And it’s not just flu season... it’s “cold and flu season,” and determining which ailment you’re dealing with can be tricky, as they share a few similar symptoms. Fever may be the main distinguishing factor between the flu and a cold, but the severity of your symptoms is another clue...

Flu vs. Cold symptoms


Both colds and flu are caused by viruses. The flu is a respiratory disease caused by some form of the influenza virus. Flu symptoms include fever, headache, dry cough and fatigue. Rhinoviruses are the culprits behind most cases of colds, but there are actually more than 200 known viruses that cause “the common cold.”

Read: 7 Homegrown Cold and Flu Home Remedies

If you’re suffering from a cough, stuffy nose, sinus headache and slight fatigue, chances are you just have a cold. But these can also be signs that you’ve caught the flu. Again, it’s the severity of the symptoms that is the key to knowing which bug you’ve got.

While there are some antiviral drugs that can be used to treat the flu, antibiotics won’t work. They won’t work against colds either. Treating the two means treating the symptoms—plenty of rest, lots of water or other liquids and in some cases taking a pain reliever/fever reducer (note: children with the flu should not be treated with aspirin).

Read: What is Oscillococcinum & Does It Really Cure the Flu?



ND Department of Health



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