Cold vs. Flu

While a cold and the flu may have common symptoms, they are very different illnesses. They are caused by two different viruses, and cold symptoms tend to be milder than flu symptoms. The table below provides details on the common cold and the flu:

Cold Flu
·       Can be caused by a variety of viruses, the most common being rhinovirus

·       Symptoms include:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Headaches and body aches

·       A cold usually lasts about 7-10 days

·       A cold cannot be cured by antibiotics so rest and over the counter medicines are the best remedies

·       Caused by the influenza virus

·       Symptoms include:

  • Feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

·       The flu typically lasts about 7-10 days with the most severe symptoms occurring on days 2-3

·       The flu cannot be cured by antibiotics, but influenza antiviral drugs can be taken


To prevent infection and contracting either illness it is recommended to avoid close contact with anyone who is already sick, wash your hands regularly, sleep at least 8 hours a week, and practice healthy eating habits to keep your immune system strong. Getting a flu shot will also reduce your risk of getting the flu.

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