How are the cold and flu different?

Knowing the difference between the cold and the flu can be crucial to your well-being — and that of your loved ones — this winter.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that during the 2017 – 2018 flu season, there have been 30 child deaths. 

Read on for a look at the two illnesses and how you can tell them apart.

Getting down to basics

“Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone,” the CDC explains online. “In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more common and intense.”


Common cold symptoms 

Coughing, a runny nose, congestion and a sore throat are just some of the things patients with the common cold may experience, the Mayo Clinic says. Others include sneezing and a minor headache or body aches. 

The Mayo Clinic also recommends seeking treatment if you experience certain health conditions, like when adults have a fever higher than 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit.


Flu symptoms

For one type of the virus, called Influenza A, the “classic” presentation is a sudden onset, Dr. Neil Fishman, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor of medicine at the Hospital for the University of Pennsylvania, told Fox News.

People may first have a headache “more in the front of your head or behind your eyes,” with other symptoms being a fever of at least 103 degrees, chills, sweats and body aches.

Influenza B often is less severe and resembles the common cold, but there can be more serious cases, he noted.

People worried about the flu or who think they may have it should consult their physicians. 

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