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The common cold and the flu (influenza) both have similar symptoms, and many people do not know the differences. While they are both respiratory infections, they are caused by different viruses. Generally, flu symptoms are more severe, occur abruptly, and last for 1-2 weeks. The flu can also lead to possible complications, like pneumonia, and may require hospitalization. A common cold is comparatively milder and is unlikely to lead to complications. Here’s information on cold vs flu to help you better understand the signs, symptoms, and treatments.
Despite the similarities in the symptoms, there are some key differences between cold and flu that you might be able to spot.
If you have a common cold, you may experience the following symptoms:
The flu can cause the following symptoms:
|Fever||High temperature (100-102’F, lasting for 3-4 days||Occasional – mild|
|Cough||Dry cough, can be severe||Hacking cough|
|Fatigue and weakness||Common, can last for 2-3 weeks||Occasional – mild|
|Chest discomfort||Common||Occasional – mild|
|Muscle aches||Common||Occasional – mild|
|Extreme exhaustion||Common, starts with the onset of the illness||Never|
A common cold typically begins with a sore throat that lasts for 1-2 days, followed by a cough, congestion, and a runny nose over the next 2-3 days. In adults, these symptoms might be accompanied by a mild fever. You are contagious in the initial 2-3 days of infection, so it is recommended you stay home and get plenty of rest.
Take the following precautions to safeguard yourself from cold and flu:
Get your flu shot every year to avoid contracting influenza. Flu vaccination is completely safe and effective. It is recommended that everyone older than 6 months of age get a flu vaccine, and the best times to get the vaccine are during the months of September and October.
If you have any questions related to the difference between cold and flu, please get in touch with us at MI Express Care. We are currently offering $25 flu shots, so get yours now to make sure you are protected this flu season. Schedule an appointment with us today!
Dr. Umayr Azimi, a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, is the Medical Director of MI Express Urgent Care and MI Express Primary Care in Canton, Michigan. He is a board-certified physician with advanced training in a wide range of non-life-threatening medical conditions. He believes that every visit is unique and treats every patient as an individual to ensure that all of his patients get the best treatment.