reviewed 1/18/2019

Cold or flu?

It can be difficult to tell a cold from the flu.

Learn how to tell them apart.

Fever: Rare with a cold. Common with the flu.

Fatigue: Sometimes occurs with a cold. Common with the flu.

Sneezing: Common with a cold. Sometimes occurs with the flu.

Headache: Rare with a cold. Common with the flu.

Extreme exhaustion: Never occurs with a cold. Common at the start of the illness with the flu.

Sore throat: Common with a cold and the flu.

Aches and pains: Sometimes occurs with a cold and tends to be mild. Common (especially in back, arms and legs) and often severe with the flu.

Vomiting or diarrhea: Never occurs with a cold. Sometimes occurs with the flu and more common in kids than adults.

Cough or chest discomfort: Common with a cold and can be mild to moderate in severity. Common with the flu and can be severe.

Stuffy or runny nose: Common with a cold and the flu.

Colds and the flu share some symptoms, but they are two unique conditions.

Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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Disclaimer

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual's particular health plan.