The flu and the common cold are two contagious viruses that share a lot of the same symptoms. But how you experience those symptoms and how common they occur are usually different. So how can you tell them apart? Here’s what you need to know.


1. Cold symptoms usually don’t include a significant fever

While you may be running a little warmer, colds rarely come with a significant fever. And while you can still have the flu without a fever, the flu typically comes with a few days above 100° Fahrenheit.


2. A dry cough usually means influenza

While a cough can be a symptom of both a cold and the flu, the type of cough you experience will vary. The flu will cause a dry cough that does not produce mucus. But a cold often produces mucus. So a wetter, more productive cough is common when you have a cold.


3. Sore throat, sneezing or a stuffy nose are more common cold symptoms

If you have these symptoms, you most likely have a cold. While sneezing or a stuffy nose could accompany the flu, they are more common during a cold.


4. The flu comes with muscle aches

Aches and pains are very common with the flu but rare with a cold. If you’re running a fever and experiencing general achiness, it’s almost certainly the flu.


5. Extreme fatigue is a telltale sign of the flu

If you’re dragging or feeling extreme fatigue, you likely have the flu. Sometimes you’ll continue feeling run down for a few days even after other flu symptoms stop. On the other hand, a cold will rarely stop you from performing your day-to-day tasks.


Convenient care when you need it

We hate to see you sick, but if you end up catching a cough, cold or the flu, our clinicians are available to treat your symptoms and help you feel better, either in person or through a video visit.

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