Sick how?

Is it a cold or the flu?

Feeling an illness coming on? Before you give up and curl up into the fetal position in a corner of the couch, it will help to figure out whether you have a cold or the flu. Rest is good medicine for both, but there’s more specific help as well. If it’s the flu, and you catch it right away, your doctor can prescribe antiviral drugs to shorten your suffering. And if it’s a cold, over-the-counter decongestants, antihistamines and cough suppressants can reduce your symptoms. So, how are you feeling?

I have a sore throat: cold. A one- or two-day sore throat is how most colds start.

I have a stuffy nose: cold. If it’s your only symptom, you either have a cold or are some kind of allergy.

I have a fever: flu. If you have a fever of 100-102 (and higher for kids), it’s likely the flu.

My cough is persistent: cold or flu. Flus and colds are both respiratory illnesses, and while coughs are a hallmark of colds, if yours is accompanied by a fever higher than 102, chills, shortness of breath and is producing bloody or yellow-green phlegm, see a doctor because your flu might breed pneumonia.

I feel like I’ve been hit by a ton of bricks: flu (or you work on a dangerous construction site). A flu comes on fast, with aches, cough, sore throat and fever hitting you all at once, while colds generally take more time and are less intense.