COLD & FLU BASICS

DON’T LET COLD AND FLU CONFUSE YOU

Because of the overlap in symptoms, people often mix up cold and flu. Understand the differences between cold and flu by considering the facts.

Cold & Flu Causes

Cold

The common cold is a viral infection that affects your upper respiratory tract (nose and throat). It’s generally not considered serious, and most people recover within a week or two.1 There are over 100 viruses that can cause the common cold.

Flu

The flu is a viral infection caused by the influenza virus that affects your entire respiratory system—nose, throat and lungs.2 Since these viruses constantly change, even if you’ve had the flu in the past, your body might be susceptible to a new strain this year.3

Compare Cold & Flu Symptoms4,5

Cold

Rare

Mild

Rare

Slight

Less common

Common

Common

Common; a hacking cough that brings up mucus

Mild to moderate

Rare

Fatigue

Chills

Body aches

Headaches

Stuffy nose

Sore throat

Cough-What type

Chest Congestion

Flu

Common

Moderate to severe

Common

Common and often severe

Common

Less common

Less Common

Common; a cough that gets more wet with progression.

Often severe

How Long Will You Be Contagious With Cold & Flu

Cold

You are most contagious for the first 2 or 3 days after symptoms first appear. However, symptoms may continue to linger.

Flu

You are most contagious for the first 1 or 2 days before symptoms first appear and 5 to 7 days after symptoms develop.

The Bottom Line on Cold & Flu

Cold

Cold symptoms are generally less severe than those associated with the flu and develop gradually.

Flu

Flu symptoms develop quickly6 and can range from mild to severe, and may sometimes lead to pneumonia, bronchitis and ear infections.2

Next: SYMPTOMS

Sources:

  1. “Common Cold.” Symptoms & Causes. Web. Retrieved August 7, 2018, from, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/symptoms-causes/syc-20351605
  2. “Influenza (flu).” - Mayo Clinic. Web. Retrieved August 7, 2018, from, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/basics/definition/con-20035101
  3. “Influenza (flu).” Preventative Steps. Web. Retrieved August 7, 2018, from, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm
  4. “Key Facts About Influenza (Flu) & Flu Vaccine.” (2015). Retrieved August 7, 2018, from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm
  5. “Cold Versus Flu.” (January 30, 2018). Retrieved August 7, 2018, from, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/coldflu.htm