Common Cold vs the Flu: Signs and Symptoms

Every year, millions of people around the world suffer from either the common cold or the flu. But what are the differences between these two illnesses? Knowing what sets them apart from each other is crucial to understanding which one you may have and how best to treat it. Rapides Urgent Care is dedicated to providing you with fast and affordable health services. Our goal is to help patients feel better and get back on their feet sooner. If you want to better understand the differences between the common cold vs the flu, we’re here to help. Learn more about the symptoms associated with these illnesses and how they can impact your health. 

Symptoms of the Common Cold vs the Flu 

Both illnesses are caused by viral infections. But, they are separate viruses with their own sets of symptoms. A cold can come from a variety of viruses, but rhinoviruses are the most common cause. Infection typically begins with a sore throat that lasts for just a few days. It is then followed by sneezing, coughing, stuffy nose, and mild headaches. A cold can also cause fatigue and muscle aches in some cases. But, generally speaking, it is not as severe as the flu. 

The flu is typically more serious than a cold since it has more intense symptoms that can last up to two weeks or longer. Symptoms of the flu include:

  • High fever (over 101 F) 
  • Extreme tiredness and weakness 
  • Body aches and pains (especially in your back, arms, and legs) 
  • Headache 
  • Chills and sweats 
  • Dry cough or sore throat 
  • Nasal congestion 
  • Runny nose

Influenza viruses can be highly contagious. And, when an infection starts in the workplace or at school, it can quickly spread. However, by scheduling your annual flu shot, you may protect yourself against the season’s worst flu strains. 

Potential for Severe Complications 

In certain cases, both illnesses can result in severe complications, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Those with weakened immune systems due to chemotherapy treatments or pre-existing conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, must monitor their conditions carefully. Those without weakened immune systems can experience dehydration due to increased levels of perspiration from fevers associated with both illnesses. In severe cases, either illness may require hospitalization if symptoms become too severe for home treatment.

Safeguarding Against Cold and Flu

When it comes to the common cold vs the flu, it’s not always easy to tell which one you may have by yourself. This is why it can be best for those suffering from cold or flu to seek care sooner rather than later. Rapides Urgent Care can diagnose your condition and recommend treatments to help you feel better faster. Check-in to the location nearest you to save time and avoid longer wait times. When you need fast care that doesn’t break the bank, we’re here for you.