Cold Vs Flu – How to Know the Difference


Medically Reviewed by,
January 8, 2023

How should I know whether I have Cold or Flu

Cold vs Flu – How should I know whether I have Cold or Flu?

Both flu and common cold are respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. Remember that cold and flu share common symptoms – and therefore, it is difficult to know whether you have cold or flu based on symptoms alone.

The symptoms associated with flu are intense – whereas the symptoms associated with common cold are not as severe as flu.

In general colds are milder than the flu.

Colds usually don’t lead to severe complications compared to flu.

Bacterial infections, pneumonia and other serious health complications are associated with flu, but are not usually associated with common cold.

Runny or stuffy nose is a common symptom of cold.

How can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?

The symptoms associated with cold and flu are almost same; therefore, it is difficult or even impossible to diagnose cold or flu based only on symptoms. If a doctor deems necessary to order tests then he or she recommends special tests within first few days of infection to know whether the patient has cold or flu.

Cold Vs Flu

What are the symptoms of common cold versus the symptoms of Flu?

Symptoms of Common Cold: Fever is rare with cold, slight body aches are common with cold, stuffy nose is commonly present with cold and usually resolves within a week; chills are uncommon with cold; tiredness is mild to moderate, sneezing is common; headache is not very common, but present, sore throat is present with cold.

Symptoms of Flu: Fever (fever is common with flu), body aches (moderate body aches are common with seasonal flu), runny nose is commonly present with seasonal flu; mild to moderate chills are associated with seasonal flu, tiredness is fairly moderate with flu, sneezing is common; headache is fairly common with flu, sore throat is associated with flu.

Note: Symptoms of cold are milder than the symptoms of flu and usually common cold do not lead to any severe health complications. The information given here is just meant to serve as a resource, but not as a substitute to help diagnose symptoms and conditions. If you are experiencing any of such symptoms, then consult your healthcare provider and ask questions related to your condition.


1 Comment

  • What Works Best for Cold and Flu , July 30, 2023 @ 4:16 pm

    […] Cold usually sets in with a sore throat, cough, runny nose, headache, body aches and sometimes fever (fever is not a common symptom of cold though). Learn more about how to differentiate Common Cold and Flu Symptoms […]

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