A Cold vs. the Flu: Know the Difference

coldThere’s nowhere you can run, there’s nowhere you can hide. Cold and flu season is here! The common cold and the flu have a few things in common, but some major differences too. How you treat the illness all hinges on which one you have, and a lot of people get the cold and the flu confused. Here’s how you can tell the difference and what you can do if you come down with either.

Is it a Cold?

With a cold you will experience:

  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Headache
  • Body aches

The cold is caused by a virus and usually will last about 7 to 10 days. You generally will not experience a fever with a cold and it will take around 18 days to fully recover from one, sometimes longer for kids.

Is it the Flu?

The symptoms of the flu are similar to a cold, but much more severe, come on more quickly and often accompanied by fever. You can have:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Muscle soreness
  • Congestion
  • Cough

How to Know Which You Have

While it’s true that flu symptoms often mimic cold symptoms, you can tell the difference by taking your temperature in most cases. Common colds will rarely have a fever above 101 degrees, while the flu may cause a much higher temperature in the beginning that makes you feel totally miserable. Flu symptoms will be like cold symptoms kicked up a notch.

What You Can Do

Getting plenty of rest and fluids is important no matter which virus you have. Antibiotics will not help because it’s a virus and therefore can’t be treated with them. You can buy over the counter pain relievers and decongestants to try and keep you more comfortable as you ride out the symptoms.


There are steps you can take this time of year to help reduce your chances of contracting a cold or the flu. You can give your immune systema boost by making sure to get regular exercise. You can also make sure to eat right and get plenty of sleep at night as well as wash your hands regularly when you’ve been out in public or at work or school. If you contract a cold or the flu and have any concerns, talk to your doctor or chiropractor. But here’s to hoping you and your family stays healthy this cold and flu season!

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Alexandra E Rust

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.