Cold or Flu? How to Tell the Difference

The autumn season is upon us. However, unfortunately, when the leaves are changing colors that also means that flu season is on its way. As it is the time of year that we find ourselves run down and sick, many of us also find ourselves asking the question, is it a cold or the flu? While often a cold can dissipate on its own with home treatments such as rest and fluids, it is important to treat the flu by means of the recommendations of a medical professional in order to ensure it doesn’t grow to become more serious.

While the flu and the common cold are both in the category of respiratory illnesses, they occur because of different strands of viruses. Usually a flu will be worse than a cold in terms of symptoms, yet very often it can be very difficult to differentiate between the two as the symptoms of one can be mistaken for the other. While colds usually don’t progress into worse illnesses, the flu can result in more serious conditions such as pneumonia as well as bacterial infections which can lead to the need of hospitalizations. This is the reason that it is so important to go and see your doctor in Arlington to rule out the flu or receive proper treatment for it so it doesn’t progress.

Symptoms of the flu versus the common cold

Often flu symptoms are worse than cold symptoms, however, sometimes it can be very difficult to identify the symptoms of which you are experiencing more prominently. With the flu you will likely feel more body aches and feverish chills where these symptoms are less common with a cold. With the flu you will likely also experience a sore throat, cough, a runny nose or a stuffed nose, headaches and fatigue. The most common symptoms of a cold are a runny and/or stuffed nose. The complete list of symptoms is as follows:

A Cold:

  • A gradual onset of symptoms
  • Very mild body aches
  • Occasional fatigue
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose

The flu (Influenza):

  • An abrupt onset of symptoms
  • Fever
  • Body and muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Occasional sore throat
  • Occasional sneezing
  • Occasional stuffy nose
  • Discomfort in chest
  • Cough
  • Headache

If it seems that your symptoms more closely resemble that of the flu, you should see a doctor in order to receive the appropriate treatment so that you can prevent worse conditions like pneumonia. To avoid the wait time, and to see a doctor on your own schedule, your best bet may be to seek out an urgent care in Arlington. If it isn’t the flu, you should highly consider getting the flu shot while you still can.

Here at Urgentology, we are an innovative and trusted urgent care with a team of caring medical experts that want to help. If you suspect you may be suffering from the flu or a severe cold, come see us for a walk-in appointment or contact us today to schedule one ahead of time.

Important: If you have a life-threatening emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Room. Information in this site is not intended to be used as a diagnosis for your symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms, please seek medical attention or visit Urgentology Care.

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