Is It a Cold or the Flu?

Is It a Cold or the Flu?

Sometimes it's hard to know if you have a cold or the flu. Here's some help checking your symptoms and deciding what to do.


How can you tell if you have a cold or the flu? And what should you do?

It's difficult because the symptoms of a cold and the symptoms of the flu are often similar, such as cough, runny nose and sore throat. However, there are differences.

Here are some differences:

  • Cold symptoms usually come on slowly, with mild symptoms like a cough, runny nose and sore throat.
  • People with a cold can usually function with their symptoms—but it's better to stay home if you're sneezing and coughing to avoid spreading germs.
  • The flu usually causes a fever, headaches, chills and aching muscles and joints. If you have the flu, it's important to stay home to avoid spreading the virus. Like a cold, flu can last a week or two. The flu may be contagious starting a day before symptoms appear until a week after becoming sick—possibly longer in children.
  • The flu typically hits people like a fast-moving train with a rapid onset of symptoms like profound fatigue, where just getting out of bed is an ordeal.
  • The flu may cause nausea and vomiting, especially in children, but those symptoms do not necessarily indicate flu.

What to do?

  • First of all, it's not too late to get your flu shot.
  • Always listen to your body. If you're experiencing severe symptoms, contact your health care provider.
  • For the very young, the very old and pregnant women, the flu can cause severe complications like pneumonia. It can even be fatal. Read more about pregnancy and the flu.
  • Wipe down potentially germy surfaces like grocery cart handles, airplane trays and the backs of airplane seats behind the trays.
  • Prevent the spread of colds and the flu by washing your hands and using tissues for coughs and sneezes.
  • Keep your immune system healthy all year round and especially this time of year. That means plenty of sleep; reducing or eliminating alcohol, smoking or vaping; and eating nutritious meals.
  • If you don't feel well for any reason, make sure you stay hydrated.
    • Drink honey and lemon tea and water.
    • Eat juicy melons, grapes and other foods with high water content.
    • Eat good old-fashioned chicken soup and other soups such as hot-and-sour soup and wonton soup.
  • For sore throats, gargle with warm saltwater. The salt helps clear the mucus film coating the throat and helps your immune system fight the microbes causing your symptoms.
  • Rest, rest, rest and more rest. Did I mention rest?
  • If you want to try supplements, these may boost your immune system:
    • Tumeric
    • Zinc lozenges and throat spray

This blog originally appeared on Nurse Barb. Barb Dehn is a women's health nurse practitioner, award-winning author and nationally recognized health expert. She practices with Women Physicians in the Silicon Valley of California.


Conversación sobre la salud: Preguntas para su médico sobre la dermatitis atópica

Use esta guía para tener una conversación útil si tiene dermatitis atópica, conocida comúnmente como eccema

Created With Support

Conversación sobre la salud: Conversaciones con pacientes sobre fibromas uterinos

Esta guía puede ser útil para qué médicos se comuniquen de mejor forma con sus pacientes en lo que se refiere a diagnósticos de fibromas uterinos y opciones de tratamiento

Created With Support

by eMediHealth

☆☆☆☆☆ By eMediHealth ☆☆☆☆☆