A Flu or a Cold: Which Is It

A flu and a cold are both caused by a virus, but there are some defining characteristics:

  • Flu symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, sore throat and cough.
  • A cold's symptoms include mild body aches and fatigue, a dry or hacking cough, runny/stuffy nose, sore throat and sneezing, mild or no headache and low-grade or no fever.
  • The flu and a cold share some of the same complications, including respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Complications from a cold include sinus congestion, earache and sinusitis.


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