Cold vs Flu – What is the Difference?

posted in: illness | 0

cold vs fluCold vs. Flu… Do you know the difference? If you wake up coughing, sneezing, achy, and have a fever, how do you know whether you have a cold or the flu?

It’s important to know the difference between a cold vs flu. A cold is milder than the flu. A cold can make you feel bad for a few days, but the flu can make you feel quite ill for a few days to weeks. Sometimes if the flu is not treated, it can develop to a serious health problem such as pneumonia.


What are cold symptoms?

Colds usually begin with a sore throat for a day or two. A runny nose, congestion, and cough begin on the fourth and fifth day. A slight fever is possible.

Watery nasal secretions will begin for the first few days. Then, it becomes thicker and darker. Dark mucus usually does not mean you have developed a sinus infection.

There are several hundred different viruses that can cause a cold.


How long does a cold last?

A cold usually lasts for about a week. You are contagious, the first three days. You can pass the cold on to others, so stay home, drink plenty of fluids and get rest.

If your cold does not improve after a week, you may have a bacterial infection. Call your health care provider because you may need antibiotics.

You may mistake a cold for a sinus infection. If your cold begins quickly and you are improving after a week, then it is usually a cold, not a sinus infection. If your cold does not seem to improve after a week, check with your doctor to see if you have developed sinusitis.


What are flu symptoms?

Flu symptoms are usually more severe than a cold and come on quickly. Symptoms of the flu include a fever, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, congestion, and cough.

Most flu symptoms improve within two to five days. It is not uncommon to feel run down for a week or more. A common complication of the flu is pneumonia, especially with the elderly, or people with lung or heart problems. If you notice shortness of breath, contact your doctor. Another sign of pneumonia is a fever that comes back after having been gone for a day or two.

Just like a cold, the flu virus enters your body through the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes, or mouth. Every time you touch your hand to one of these areas, you could be infecting yourself with a virus. Frequent washing of the hands will help prevent both the flu and a cold.


Do you have the flu or a cold?

How do you know if you have the flu or a cold? First, take your temperature. The flu often mimics a cold with nasal congestion, cough, and achiness. With a cold, you will rarely have a fever above 101 degrees. You will probably have a fever initially with the flu and feel miserable. Body and muscle aches are also more common with the flu.


If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, call LaGrange Medical Center and Urgent Care at 708-352-0330. We are located at 6170 Joliet Road in Countryside, Illinois. We’re minutes away from Interstates 55 and 294, just off Joliet Road and LaGrange (Route 45).