Is it a Cold or Flu? What is the difference?

Cold and Flu both are caused by viruses. They have many similar symptoms but generally Flu is worse. A cold develops gradually. Initial symptoms of runny nose, sneezing, and chills are followed by coughing, headache, sore throat, loss of appetite, and nasal discharge. If fever is present, it will be low-grade (less than 101 degrees). The flu most often hits abruptly, with a sudden high fever, dry cough, and headache. Other symptoms may include muscle aches, weakness, a sore throat, runny nose, and red, watery eyes that are sensitive to light.

Here is a simple chart to differentiate between the two:

Fever Rare Usual; High (100F – 102F)
Headache Rare Common
General Aches, Pains Slight Usual; often severe
Fatigue, Weakness Sometimes Usual; up to 2-3 weeks
Extreme Exhaustion Never Usual, at beginning
Stuffy Nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Chest discomfort, cough Mild-Moderate dry cough Common, can be severe
Treatment Supportive Care: Antihistamines for sneezing, runny nose;
Decongestants for stuffy nose;
Anti-Tussives (Cough suppresants) for cough;
NSAIDs for pain or fever or chills
Antiviral Prescription Medications; See your doctor
Prevention Wash hands often. Avoid close contact with anyone who had cold. Annual Flu Shots
Complications Sinus congestion, Middle ear infection or Worsening of Asthma. Bronchitis, Pneumonia; Can be Life threatening


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