The Difference Between Cold and Flu Symptoms

As we enter this season of the Lungs, I am starting to see more people with colds and flus. Don’t forget that catching a cold or flu at the very beginning with herbs and acupuncture can stop it in it’s tracks!

My patients often ask me the difference between a cold and a flu. Here is a a chart to help you understand. You might be able to keep going with a head cold, although continuing activity rather than resting can easily drive it deeper; but continuing to try to keep up with your schedule with a flu can lead to infections!

The Difference Between Cold and Flu Symptoms

Symptom Cold Flu
Fever

Fever is rare with a cold.

Fever is usually present with the flu in up to 80% of all cases. A temperature of 100° F or higher for 3 to 4 days is associated with the flu.

Coughing

A hacking, productive cough is often present with cold.

A non-productive (non-mucus producing) cough is usually present with the flu (sometimes referred to as dry cough).

Aches

Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold.

Severe aches and pains are common with the flu.

Stuffy Nose

Stuffy nose is commonly present with a cold and typically resolves spontaneously within a week.

Stuffy nose is not commonly present with the flu.

Chills

Chills are uncommon with a cold.

60% of people who have the flu experience chills.

Tiredness

Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold.

Tiredness is moderate to severe with the flu.

Sneezing

Sneezing is commonly present with a cold.

Sneezing is not common with the flu.

Sudden Symptoms

Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days.
The flu has rapid onset within 3-6 hours.

The flu hits hard and includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.

Headache

A headache is fairly uncommon with a cold.

A headache is very common with the flu, present in 80% of flu cases.

Sore Throat

Sore throat is commonly present with a cold.

Sore throat is not commonly present with the flu.

Chest Discomfort

Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold.

Chest discomfort is often severe with the flu.

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