Cold and Flu: Symptoms and Causes
Are you experiencing cold symptoms? Or are they flu symptoms? What is the difference between a cold and the flu?
The common cold and the flu are caused by different viruses. Colds are generally caused by a number of different viruses, whereas the flu is only caused by the influenza A or influenza B viruses. While many of the symptoms of a cold and the flu may overlap, there are some important distinctions between these common upper respiratory infections.
A cold is generally milder than the flu. Symptoms are frequently concentrated in the head and nose, such as a headache or runny nose. While fever is common in children with colds, it should generally not be present in adults, and its presence should prompt medical evaluation.
The flu may have similar symptoms, but they are usually more severe.. With the flu, you may experience a fever, extreme fatigue, sore throat and severe body aches. Complications from the flu can be more severe compared to a cold, and have the potential to result in hospitalization or death. COVID-19 also has symptoms similar to colds or influenza, which makes it even more important to see a healthcare provider to assess your symptoms.
Common Cold and Flu Diagnosis and Treatment
Treatment and diagnosis of colds and the flu differ.
Common colds, and sometimes even flu, can be diagnosed by a healthcare provider based on symptoms and physical exam. Common cold treatments usually include rest, drinking plenty of fluids and using over-the-counter medications. Colds usually worsen over the first 4-5 days, especially at night, and resolve on their own in 7 to 10 days. Light cough may persist up to 3weeks after a cold, but other symptoms should be resolved. The strategy for cold treatment is to suppress or mask symptoms while the immune system fights the virus.
On the other hand, a flu diagnosis is made by assessing a combination of symptoms, and conducting a physical exam and an influenza test, if needed. There are more treatment options for the flu than for a cold. In addition to rest and hydration, our provider may prescribe antiviral medications, fever reducers or other medications depending on your symptoms. Antiviral medications work best when started within the first 48 hours of symptom onset.
Other Conditions GoHealth Urgent Care Treats
At GoHealth Urgent Care, we can help diagnose and treat upper respiratory infections, so you can feel better faster. We offer treatment for more than just colds and the flu — we can also help with:
- Sinus infections & Sinusitis
For a complete list of our services, please click here.