What is the Difference Between the Flu and a Common Cold?

Janet Smith, CNP discusses cold and flu concerns. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


Not sure if you have a cold or the flu?

While they’re both respiratory sicknesses and often have the same symptoms, they’re caused by different viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Flu symptoms are usually worse and come on more quickly than a cold, according to the CDC.

Symptoms of a cold include:

  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat

Symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Possible upset stomach and vomiting

Be sure to take care of yourself when you have the flu so it doesn’t develop into serious health issues like pneumonia or bacterial infections, which are not commonly caused by colds.

Talk with your doctor for more information about the difference between a cold and the flu.

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