Is it a cold or the flu?

Learn how to spot the differences.

The common cold and the flu can be tricky to tell apart.
They’re both respiratory illnesses and they share many symptoms.

Common Cold vs. The Flu
Gradual Onset of symptoms Abrupt
Rare Fever Usual
Slight Aches and pains Usual
Uncommon Chills Fairly common
Sometimes Fatigue Usual
Common Sneezing Sometimes
Common Stuffy nose Sometimes
Common Sore throat Sometimes
Mild to moderate Chest cough Common
Rare Headache Common
Yes Loss of appetite Sometimes
Common Cold vs. The Flu
200+ different viruses Cause Influenza viruses
All year (especially winter and spring) Time of year All year (especially October to May)
Yes Contagious Yes
7 to 10 days Duration Approx. 2 weeks
Usually Mild Symptom severity Often severe
Acute bronchitis and pneumonia Possible complications Pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus or ear infections
Not effective Anibiotic treatment Not effective

Adults average two to three colds each year, and children average six to eight.

People with lung conditions like asthma are more vulnerable to colds.

The best way to prevent it is to get your flu shot every year.

Symptoms appear 1 to 4 days after being exposed to the flu virus.

Remedies that work

Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of fluids like water, juice, and clear broth to prevent dehydration. Avoid alcohol, coffee, and caffeinated sodas because they can worsen dehydration.

Get rest

Your body needs rest to heal. Try and get a few extra hours of sleep at night and a nap or two during the day.

Gargle with saltwater

Use 1/4 to a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and dissolve it into an 8-ounce glass of warm water. Gargle in the morning and before bed to help clear out bacteria and loosen mucus.

Sip warm liquids

Make a pot of honey, lemon, and Sambucol tea or enjoy a bowl of chicken soup. Warm liquids can help to ease congestion by increasing mu-cus flow.

Add moisture to the air

Use a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home. Change the water daily and clean the unit according to the manufacturer's instructions.