Cold versus flu

Here’s how they are different

Feeling poorly, but don’t know what exactly is ailing you? If you’re unsure whether you have a common cold or the flu, here are some telltale signs that distinguish them.

• Sudden onset: If, out of the blue, you feel like you’ve been run over by a bus, it’s likely you’re dealing with the flu. Symptoms including fever, headache, muscle aches, congestion and cough tend to come on quickly and are intense.

• Fever: This is usually a good indication that you have the flu, as most people do not develop a fever when they catch a cold.

• Major fatigue: With the flu, you will start feeling tired and achy; these symptoms can last for weeks.

• Sore throat: Colds usually begin with a sore throat; other symptoms follow.

• Nasal discharge: Unless a stuffy nose is accompanied by fever, aches and fatigue, you’ve likely caught a cold.

Treating the flu appropriately is important—it can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia. Pro tip: It’s not too late to get a vaccine. Make an appointment with your health care provider while you’re well or take a quick trip to a pharmacy that offers the shot.