Urgent Care for Cold and Flu Symptoms

Catching a cold or coming down with the flu can force you to miss out on work, school and other activities you enjoy. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, you need relief right away.

At GoHealth Urgent Care, our caring providers can help you feel better faster. Just walk in or save your spot online at any of our conveniently located centers — or schedule a Virtual Visit for the same great care from home. We are here for you 365 days a year.  

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Finding quality care for your respiratory symptoms is simple — search above for your nearest center.

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:

  • Bronchitis
  • Laryngitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Sinus infections & Sinusitis

For a complete list of our services, please click here

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you tell the difference between a cold and COVID-19?

Colds and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses, however, symptoms may overlap. These include coughing, fatigue, sore throat, and stuffy nose. 

Because of the overlapping symptoms, it is difficult to tell the difference between a cold and COVID-19. The only way to know which one you have is with a diagnostic test. If you are experiencing upper respiratory symptoms, it might be best to get tested for COVID-19 to be certain. Speak to your provider about your symptoms and any steps you need to take.

Is there a vaccine for the common cold?

No, there is no vaccine for the common cold. There is a vaccine for the flu and for COVID-19. Speak to your provider about which vaccines are recommended for you and how to get one. 

How does the flu vaccine work?

The vaccine works by introducing tiny neutralized parts of different flu viruses into the body to trigger an immune system reaction. This teaches your body how to fight off infection by the flu, before being exposed to the virus. 

The flu vaccine is a preventive shot you can receive each flu season. It is expected to reduce the risk of getting sick with the flu by 40-60% depending on the year. Getting an annual flu shot is just one of the many things you can do to help lower your risk of getting sick with the flu. 

Does GoHealth Urgent Care offer the flu vaccine?

Yes, GoHealth Urgent Care offers flu shots starting in late September. Getting a flu shot at one of our urgent care centers is convenient and easy. Just walk in or save your spot online and get a shot for the whole family aged 6 months and up. 

What is an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)?

An upper respiratory infection (URI) is a viral infection of the airways above the level of the lungs, such as the nose and back of the throat. The common cold is a URI, as are sinusitis and pharyngitis. 

Treatments for upper respiratory infections depend on the type of infection you have and the cause. Some URIs resolve with at-home treatments like rest, hydration and over-the-counter medications. Others may require medications prescribed by your provider. 

If you are experiencing symptoms of a URI, but are unsure of the cause of your nasal congestion or cough, consider speaking to a healthcare provider who can evaluate your symptoms and provide the treatment you need.