How to Tell: Is It the Cold or the Flu?

They don’t call it cold and flu season for nothing. This is the time of year that people are huddling...

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They don’t call it cold and flu season for nothing. This is the time of year that people are huddling to stay warm indoors, going out less, and as a result, getting sick more. When it comes to the cold and the flu, they have many common symptoms but some distinct differences. As far as treatment goes, one is just rest and plenty of fluids, whereas with the flu you might need medication and more medical care to prevent complications. But how do you know when what you’ve got is just the common cold or if it’s the flu?

First, take a look at your symptoms. The cold and the flu can both cause you to feel the following symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Achy
  • Feverish
  • Exhaustion

The cold might also cause a runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, and congestion. Another way to determine whether it is the cold or the flu is to pay attention to how quickly the symptoms came on. If you have the flu, symptoms will typically come on extremely fast. So fast that you could feel fine in the morning and then feel awful by the afternoon. Aches and pains also present a little differently. During a cold, they are much more mild and typically, they’re related to the congestion you’re feeling. However, during the flu, aches are felt deep down in the muscles and the pain is more intense.

Treatment for the two are also very different. If you have the flu, it’s a good idea to take medication within the first 48 hours to reduce the severity of your symptoms which can sometimes result in other illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis. If you think you might have the flu, call your health care provider as soon as possible to get the care you need and be able to ward off any additional complications.

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