Cold or Flu? Know the Difference

Jun 25, 2009
Sometimes it is quite difficult to make a difference between various respiratory infections, like flu and common cold

Difference between Common Cold and Flu

Cold and flu are two absolutely different infections for doctors, while for most people these conditions may mean staying in bed and feeling sick. So how to recognize whether you have flu or common cold?
  1. Flu always starts suddenly. Usually, one can even recall the moment when the illness begins, while a continuous increase of the symptoms is characteristic for cold.

  2. The first symptoms of flu are: headaches, pain in the eyes and in the muscles, shivering, abundant sweating, fatigue, dizziness and a sudden increase of body temperature. Common cold often starts with sore throat and runny nose. The temperature is often low-grade.

  3. Sneezing is a typical sign of cold and it is not associated with flu. Cough is often present in the beginning of the disease if it is common cold. It is often dry, short and mild, while with the flu cough often begins on the second or even on the third day of the disease. It is usually associated with sore throat and runny nose. Flu cough is strong and is frequently accompanied by the painful feeling in the chest. The feeling comes from the mucous membranes of the trachea infected with the virus of flu.

  4. Typical flu manifests itself more severely than common cold. It often leads to such complications, as pneumonia and disorders of the cardiovascular and nervous systems. It is worth mentioning that the numerous fatal outcomes of the flu are caused by flu complications not by flu itself.

  5. Common cold usually last from 3 days to a week or so, after which you will recover quite soon. The recovery period for flu can take up to a month, with such symptoms as dizziness, sudden changes in blood pressure, loss of appetite, sleepiness, which are characteristic for tiredness. In this case, you can stay in bed for a longer time. Work productivity can be quite low, and the illness can reappear.

Facts about Common Cold and Flu

According to World Health Organization, common cold is the most widespread illness in the world, including 90 percent of all the cases of infectious diseases. Common cold can cause such complications as bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infection, while flu is known to lead to such complications as nervous system disorders and pneumonia.