Cold vs Flu: What's the difference?

October 13, 2017

A lot of people use “cold” and “flu” interchangeably, and granted, there are many similarities. But there are some essential differences between the two that are important to know. So here’s a quick run down of the similarities and differences between a cold and the flu.



Both are caused by a virus and affect the body’s respiratory system, and both usually will go away on their own.


Cold Symptoms: sore throat, runny nose/congestion, cough (a fever is uncommon but possible).

Flu Symptoms: sore throat, congestion, cough, headache, body aches, fever (vomiting and diarrhea are symptoms of some types of flu).


Prevention: There is no vaccine to prevent a cold; there are vaccination options for the flu.


Complications: Colds generally do not result in any further, more serious complications. The flu may lead to pneumonia or hospitalization.


Duration: Colds generally last a few days; the flu may last a few weeks.


Treatment: Cough suppressants, decongestants, and pain relievers may be used to ease the symptoms of a cold, but they do not treat it. The same medicines can be used for the flu, but in some cases, antiviral medicines may be prescribed by the physician.

These are generalizations of both the cold and the flu, and not comprehensive of every possible situation. If you have any questions, please call either office or reach out to us through our website.


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