Viruses cause colds and the flu. Both are respiratory infections. The simplest way to tell the difference is by looking at your symptoms.
If you have a cold, you’ll probably have symptoms like these:
Flu symptoms can include:
- dry, hacking cough
- moderate to high fever, although not everyone with the flu will run a fever
- sore throat
- shaking chills
- severe muscle or body aches
- stuffy and runny nose
- severe fatigue that may last up to two weeks
- nausea and vomiting (most common in children)
Colds come on gradually over a few days and are often milder than the flu. They usually get better in 7 to 10 days, although symptoms can last for up to 2 weeks.
Flu symptoms come on quickly and can be severe. They usually last 1 to 2 weeks.
Use your symptoms as a guide to figure out which condition you have. If you think you might have the flu, see your doctor to get tested within the first 48 hours of showing symptoms.