Common cold is a type of viral infection that usually affects the upper respiratory tract, i.e. the nose and throat.
Flu symptoms may mimic a common cold, but they start suddenly – the patient may suffer from a sudden onset of fever, aches, chills, weakness, sneezing, headaches and stuffy nose and sore throat.
What’s the difference?
High fever is one of the common symptoms of flu
People suffering from cold do feel slightly feverish, however, if you have a fever of 102 degrees or higher, it could mean flu. Ideally, high body temperature along with sore throat and cough is a tell-a-tale sign that someone is infected with the flu virus.
Flu can happen suddenly
When it comes to cold, the symptoms tend to develop gradually with mild sniffling, discomfort or congestion. These slowly progress into sore throat and the condition worsens. But that is not the case with the flu. The symptoms of the flu usually develop abruptly such that you feel sick the next moment or after waking up.
Colds usually go away on their own
If you have been experiencing symptoms such as cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, fever or weakness for more than 2-3 days, it is wise to consult a doctor. Ideally, the symptoms of cold subside within a few days and you may show improvement in your symptoms. However, the symptoms of flu may require medications or hospitalization to go away. Moreover, flu can also be fatal in some cases.
Body ache, headache, weakness and sore throat could mean flu
People suffering from the flu may show symptoms such as coughing, fatigue/weakness, body pain, headache and fever. Whereas, those with a common cold may complain about runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or sore throat. People with common cold are less likely to experience fever, weakness and body aches.
The symptoms of flu lasts longer
Unlike common cold, which usually lasts for around 3 – 5 days, influenza or flu lasts for more than five days. Also, the chances of complications are higher if you suffer from the flu. It is seen that people down with flu may develop respiratory conditions such as pneumonia, strep throat, bronchitis. The risk of complications is higher in people with low immunity, diabetes, heart disease and those with respiratory problems.