Cold, or the Flu?

Is It the Flu or a Cold?

It’s easy to confuse a common cold with seasonal flu. A cold is milder than the flu, but since the flu can make older people very sick, you should know the difference. That way you will know when to call the doctor, who might want to give you a prescription for medicines that can help you get over the flu.

People with the flu can have fever, chills, dry cough, general aches and pains, and a headache. They feel very tired. Sore throat, sneezing, stuffy nose, or stomach problems are less common. What some people call “stomach flu” is not influenza. (courtesy of


Symptoms If It’s a Cold If It’s the Flu
Fever Rare Usual
Headache Rare Common
General aches, pains Slight Usual; often severe
Tiredness, weakness Sometimes Usual; can last 2 to 3 weeks
Extreme exhaustion Rare Usual; when first become sick
Stuffy nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore throat Common Sometimes
Chest discomfort, cough Mild to moderate hacking cough Common; can become severe

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