Do I have a Cold or The Flu?

Is it just a cold, or is it the flu? Your head is throbbing, your nose is clogged, and your throat is itchy. Unless your doctor performs a rapid flu test, in which a cotton swab is taken from the back of your nose or throat to rule out other possible causes, it can be difficult to tell if you have the flu.

Discerning the Variations

Flu and cold symptoms are caused by viruses. Symptomatically, they're both respiratory illnesses. Looking at your symptoms is the quickest and easiest way to tell the difference.

These are some of the Symptoms you Might Experience if you have a Cold

little fatigue, headache, sore throat, or sneezing

Nosebleeds and sinus congestion

Among the list of Possible flu Symptoms are

  • low to high temperature, while not all flu patients experience a rise in body temperature

  • throat-aching, shivering, coldness

  • severe dry coughing

  • Discomfort all throughout the body, especially the muscles, a fever, a stuffy nose, and a headache

  • terrible tiredness that might persist for two weeks

  • diarrhea, vomiting, and/or nausea (most common in children)

Find out what's wrong by paying attention to your symptoms. Flu testing should be done during the first 48 hours after experiencing symptoms. A cold often develops for a few days and is less severe than the flu. While symptoms may last up to two weeks, most people feel better within a week to ten days. Flu symptoms may appear suddenly and be very severe. Their average duration is 14 days.

Explaining the Common Cold?

Sneezing and coughing transmit the cold virus by releasing infectious droplets. You may get ill if you touch your nose, mouth, or eyes after touching a surface (such as a counter or doorknob) that an infected person has handled. You get the classic cold when a virus infects your nose or throat. The American Lung Association estimates that over 200 distinct viruses contribute to the spread of the common cold. Yet, the Mayo Clinic reports that rhinovirus is the most common cause of these symptoms.

The best way to Combat a Cold

There is no evidence that echinacea can be used to either prevent or cure a common cold. When to see a doctor: After a week of your cold not getting better, you get a high fever. You still have a high temperature. Allergic reactions are possible, or you might have a bacterial infection like sinusitis or strep throat that needs medication. Antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections like the common cold. Cold symptoms like congestion and pains may be alleviated with over-the-counter medicines such as antihistamines, decongestants, acetaminophen, and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If you want to prevent dehydration, it's essential to drink a lot of fluids. Zinc, and vitamin C, are just some of the natural medicines some individuals use to ward against the common cold or alleviate its symptoms.

Preventing the Common Cold

It's been said, "We can put a man on the moon, but we still haven't found a treatment for the common cold." While medical professionals have not yet discovered a vaccine, some steps may be taken to protect against this very harmless but unpleasant condition.


Due to how readily they may be transmitted, colds are best avoided if possible. If you become ill, don't contact anybody. Don't borrow anything from someone else, especially anything as intimate as a toothbrush or towel. Don't come into work and spread it around when you have a cold.

Proper Personal Hygiene

Maintain sanitary habits. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or regularly wash your hands with hot water and soap to kill any germs you may have picked up during the day. Avoid putting your hands near your face whenever you aren't clean. Please cover your mouth and nose if you need to cough or sneeze. It's recommended that you wash your hands after every use.

The Seasonal flu: What is it?

Flu viruses change their strains every year. This is why every year, a new influenza vaccination is created. Unlike the common cold, which may strike any time of year, influenza tends to have a seasonal distribution. Typically, flu season lasts from autumn through spring, with the worst occurring in the winter. During flu season, the virus is disseminated by the same droplet-to-droplet contact that causes the common cold. You are contagious a day before you develop symptoms and up to seven days after that.

 Influenza: How to Treat It

Drugs like these help lessen the severity of flu symptoms and protect against secondary infections like pneumonia. Flu sufferers should drink plenty of water and relax as much as possible. Avoid dehydration by consuming sufficient water. Some people get relief from their symptoms by using over-the-counter pain medications and decongestants such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. In any case, kids should never take aspirin.

Illness: When to Get Medical Help

Talk to your doctor when you notice flu symptoms if you are at high risk for complications. Serious problems are more likely to occur in the following groups of people: adults over 65 and expecting mothers.

The Signs That It's Time to See a Doctor

If you have a high risk of developing complications from the flu, you should contact your doctor as soon as you notice any signs of illness. The elderly (those who are already past the typical risk of complications). You should visit your doctor if your symptoms worsen or don't improve after a few days. If you have difficulty breathing, a severe sore throat, a cough with green mucus, a high, persistent fever, or chest pain, you may have pneumonia and should see a doctor. If your child develops any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately −

Symptoms may include shortness of breath, anger, extreme fatigue, refusal to consume fluids, sleepiness, and difficulty waking up or interacting.

Preserving one's Health

Proper health habits are among the strongest barriers against transmitting viruses that cause the common cold and flu. The best method to remain healthy during cold and flu season (and beyond) is to follow the advice we've previously given you: get enough rest, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, exercise frequently, and learn to handle your stress.

Receiving a flu vaccination is the most effective technique of warding against influenza. The vaccination is only accessible in late autumn and winter. The flu vaccination is an excellent prophylactic strategy and may help lower the severity of flu symptoms if you get sick. Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to lower your chance of contracting the flu. Avoid touching your ears, nose, and mouth. Maintain your distance from anyone who may be infected with the flu or have flu-like symptoms.

Updated on: 31-Mar-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started