Is It The Common Cold or The Flu

Posted on March 1, 2017

common cold

The common cold and the flu are both viruses that affect a person’s respiratory system, and they cause some of the same symptoms. There are, however, differences among their symptoms that medical professionals often use to determine whether a patient has a cold or the flu. Here are some differences between the symptoms caused by the common cold and the flu.

The Common Symptoms of the Common Cold

Colds almost always cause coughing, nasal congestion, sneezing and a sore throat. These symptoms can vary in severity, but they usually set in over a few days as a cold develops.

The flu also is usually accompanied by a cough, but the cough is different from the type caused by a cold. The flu’s cough is dry, while that of the common cold frequently brings up mucus. Additionally, the other symptoms -- nasal congestion, sneezing and a sore throat -- only sometimes occur when a person gets the flu.

The Symptoms Caused by the Flu

Along with a dry cough, the flu’s other tell-tale symptoms are severe aches, a fever, chills and sweating. The flu can also cause nausea, although this symptom isn’t as consistent as the others.

Most of these symptoms don’t accompany the common cold. When people catch a cold, they might have mild head or body aches, but they don’t have chills, sweats or nausea. A few people may get a fever from a cold, but this is rare. Moreover, when a cold causes a fever, the fever is usually milder than fevers that accompany the flu.

in most cases, these flu symptoms set in quickly -- sometimes within hours. They normally come on much faster than those caused by the common cold, which can take days to develop.

See a Doctor for a Diagnosis

Even if you know the symptoms of the common cold and the flu, it’s often difficult to tell them apart without medical training. If you’re on Long Island and develop any of these symptoms, come to our Long Island medical center for proper treatment. In addition to PCMB’s world-class specialists, our Urgent Care Center in Manorville has highly qualified doctors who treat patients who have the common cold and the flu. No appointment is necessary.