This year’s influenza season is well underway, and it hasn’t even peaked yet. So, we’d be remiss if we didn’t suggest getting a vaccination ASAP if you haven’t already.
With widespread flu activity already reported over the continental U.S., it’s important to be prepared.
Of course, there are also plenty of cold germs to be found this time of year as well. And for many, it’s hard to really tell the difference between cold and flu symptoms. Even most over-the-counter medications are labeled for both.
It’s true, there both respiratory illnesses, but the causes are different. Luckily, the more severe of the two viruses is the one that’s most easily prevented.
Still, vaccinated or not, here are some ways you can tell the difference.
Onset of Symptoms
When it comes to the cold versus the flu, there are several things that set them apart. Firstly, there’s the onset.
If you feel like you’re gradually getting sick, that may be a sign that you simply have a cold. Abrupt onset of symptoms, on the other hand, typically indicates the influenza virus is to blame.
Fever, Chills, Body Aches, and Headaches
There are also certain symptoms that are far more common with the flu than with a cold. For example, your temperature could tell you a lot. Fever is typical with the flu but is rarely a symptom of a cold. And the same goes for chills as well.
Headaches are also a common symptom of the flu that is not commonly associated with a cold. As for body aches and pains, they are much more commonly associated with the flu than a cold.
Sneezing, Stuffiness, and Sore Throats
Symptoms like a stuffy head, sneezing, and a sore throat are all quite commonly associated with a cold. Of course, they can be symptoms of the flu as well, though they aren’t necessarily a hallmark of the virus.
Achiness and fever are the primary flu symptoms, with these as occasional secondary ones.
Of course, if you do have these symptoms with the flu, they’ll likely be more severe than with a cold.
Coughing and Chest Discomfort
Wondering why so many OTC medications are marked for both cold and flu? Well, both tend to come with a cough. While it may only be mild to moderate with a cold, it’s an incredibly common symptom of the flu.
Both viruses can lead to feelings of weakness and fatigue, though it is almost always a symptom of the flu. You may or may not feel as weak when you just have a cold.
The Basic Differences
So, here’s the deal. Basically, if you have a runny nose but don’t feel absolutely terrible all over, you probably just have a cold. If you got sick abruptly and are experiencing fever, chills, and aches, you’ve most likely contracted the flu.
With the flu, you’ll also likely have more symptoms than with a common cold. Plus, they’ll also be far more severe. With a cold, you may still feel okay to get out of bed and go through your daily routine. If you have the flu, that’s a lot tougher.
Regardless, if you don’t feel well, it’s always wise to seek the advice of a medical professional.
Do you have any tips or home remedies for fighting off the season’s viral ailments? Let us know in the comments below!