Cold Vs. The Flu: Here’s Some Tips On How To Tell The Difference

Photo courtesy of CDC.

(KFSM) — With flu season in full swing, it’s important to recognize the difference between the flu and the common cold.

They are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Their symptoms are similar so it could be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, so make sure to take a flu test within the first few days of becoming sick.

Generally, the flu is worse than a cold, and flu symptoms are more intense. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and fatigue. It’s common for children who have the flu to experience vomiting and diarrhea.

People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose and generally, colds do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalizations.

Here are some emergency warning signs of the flu:

In children:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Ribs pulling in with each breath
  • Chest pain
  • Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
  • Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
  • Not alert or interacting when awake
  • Seizures
  • Fever above 104°F
  • In children less than 12 weeks, any fever
  • Fever or cough that improves but then returns or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

In adults:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
  • Seizures
  • Not urinating
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  • Fever or cough that improves but then returns or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions
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