What is the difference between flu and the common cold?

Difference Between Flu and The Common Cold | Symptoms

The common cold and flu are both respiratory diseases. Although, when you wake up feeling feverish, coughing, sneezing along body ache, it is difficult to know whether you have flu symptoms or a cold. Therefore, it is essential to know the difference between both illnesses based on symptoms. There are tests that are done within the initial days of the disease, which can identify if the person has flu or not.


Cold is generally milder as compared to a more serious virus-like a Flu. People suffering from cold have a runny nose. A cold is not associated with serious health issues like pneumonia or major virus infection, which can result in hospitalizations. It generally lasts for about a week. Most of the time a cold can be treated with over-the-counter medications. The first three days of cold symptoms are transmissible. Therefore, you need to take proper rest and remain at home. If the cold continues for more than a week, then you may have a contagious infection and you will require antibodies to get rid of it. A strong immune system is the best protection against the common cold. The symptoms are as follows:

  • Sore throat
  • The runny nose followed by congestion
  • Mild cough
  • Body ache
  • Headache
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue
  • Mild fever
  • Watery eyes


The flu virus also enters the body through the nose, eyes, or mouth, in the same manner as the common cold. Therefore, it is important to maintain proper hygiene and clean your hand often to remain germ-free to protect yourself from both the ailments such as flu and cold. The flu is also referred to as seasonal influenza. It is a respiratory disorder that is caused by a virus that impacts your lungs, nose, and throat. Although the flu symptoms improve after 2 to 5 days, it can go beyond a week or more. Therefore, one must take the flu vaccine. Many people suffering from the flu get well without taking any treatment, but you need to stay at home and rest properly. Flu also comes with serious health issues, especially in small children, the elderly, and people with chronic issues such as the lungs or heart problem. Here are some common symptoms of Flu:

  • Sore throat
  • High fever
  • Severe body pain
  • Occasional runny nose
  • Dry cough
  • Diarrhea (especially in children)
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Occasional Sore throat
  • Difficulty in breathing sometimes

When to visit a doctor with cold or flu symptoms:

  • Continuous fever: If a fever lasts for more than 3 days, it is a sign of contagious infection, that needs to be treated.
  • Pain in swallowing: A sore throat causes mild discomfort, but it the pains starts to increase, that it’s a sign of strep throat. In this case, you need to visit a doctor
  • Constant coughing: If the coughing continues for 2 to 3 weeks, it can be bronchitis. This requires antibiotic treatment.
  • Continuous headache and congestion: A congestion and blockage of sinus passages, can also cause sinusitis (sinus infection). You may also feel pain around the eyes or thick nasal discharge, it’s a symptom of bacterial infection.

In a few cases, you need to see a doctor on an urgent medical basis such as:

  • Extreme headache
  • Severe chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Constant vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness

If you or anyone in the family has symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, cold, and cough, consult our team of health care experts at the Bansal Global Hospital. We at the Bansal Global Hospital have a team of specialized physicians who focuses on complete and integrated health care with a compassionate atmosphere.

Contact us at +919911062832

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