It is never pleasant to have either the cold or the flu. While the two may have similar symptoms initially, the two sicknesses differ in terms of severity. Here is how you can differentiate between the two and how you can treat it.

Cold vs. Flu – What Is the Difference?

A cold usually starts with a sore throat that disappears within two days. Afterwards, you will be greeted with nasal symptoms, a runny nose, as well as congestion. By the fourth or fifth day, you might even be accompanied by a cough. Your mucus will turn from watery to dark and thick. Although a fever is less common for adults, you might develop a slight fever as well. Keep in mind that children are much likely to get a fever.

cold and flu season

The good part about cold is that they only last for around a week. In addition, you will only be contagious for the first three days. If you see symptoms persist after a week, consult a doctor as you might need antibiotics to combat a bacterial infection.

The flu (also known as influenza) is much more severe than a cold with a faster onset of symptoms. If you have flu, you will most likely have a sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches, soreness, congestion, as well as a cough. Swine flu will also mean that you will have vomiting and diarrhea. Although symptoms do start improving within five days, you will most likely feel sick for at least another week or more.

The flu can become more complicated with pneumonia, especially for the young, elderly, or those with lung or heart issues. If you have symptoms for the flu and experience shortness of breath, notify your doctor as soon as you can. Another common sign for pneumonia is a fever that returns after being gone for a while.

While a cold usually only has a mild fever, the flu can give you a fever of higher than 100° F easily. Flu season runs from fall to spring.


For your congestion issues, a decongestant can be helpful. However, if you have a runny nose or itchy and watery eyes, an antihistamine will also be off great help. Both of these can be bought over-the-counter, but you may want to talk to your doctor about which treatment is best. Keep in mind that over-the-counter antihistamines can also make your drowsy.

For pain relief, taking medicine with codeine or co-codamol can be effective. Codeine is used for mild to moderate forms of pain. If you know that paracetamol and ibuprofen do not work well for you, this can be a better choice. You can find it available in several forms of cough remedies already, which will be useful in getting rid of any pesky coughs you might have. Co-codamol uses both paracetamol and codeine. This will be more useful for you if you are already taking large amounts of medicine per day. However, as with any medicine, make sure that you consult your doctor or pharmacist to avoid any negative interactions. You can click here to know more details.


Hey there, I’m Tiffany! I’m a work-at-home mom of two rambunctious children (Jasmine, 9 + Sean II, 5) and recently widowed at just 35 years old. I've remarried and currently live right outside of Baton Rouge in Denham Springs, Louisiana with two adoring cats and a dog. Let's connect on Twitter @fabulousmomblog.

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