Framingham State University
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The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. In general the flu is worse than the common cold. Colds develop gradually while the flu tends to start very suddenly. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if you have the flu or a cold.

Is it a cold or Do I have the Flu? - Compare cold vs. flu symptoms

Symptoms

Cold

Flu

Fever

Rare

Usual; high (100-102 degrees; occasionally higher); lasts 3-4 days

Headache

Rare

Common

General Aches, Pains

Slight

Usual; often severe

Fatigue, Weakness

Sometimes

Usual; can last 2-3 weeks

Extreme Exhaustion

Never

Usual; at the beginning of illness

Stuffy Nose

Common

Sometimes

Sneezing

Usual

Sometimes

Sore Throat

Common

Sometimes

Chest Discomfort, Cough

Mild to moderate; hacking cough

Common; can become severe

Treatment

Antihistamines, Decongestant, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines

Antiviral medicines - see your healthcare provider

Prevention

Wash hands often, Avoid close contact with anyone infected

Annual vaccination

Complications

Sinus congestion, Middle ear infection, Asthma

Bronchitis, Pneumonia

Framingham State University

100 State Street

PO Box 9101

Framingham, MA 01701-9101

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Phone: 508-620-1220