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Is it the Flu or a Cold? How to Tell the Difference

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Is it a cold or a flu? That’s a question many of us ask during the long, winter season. The good news is that there are a number of ways to tell the difference between the two afflictions.

The even better news is that the cold—which is shorter in duration and less intense than the flu—is far less common than influenza. Let’s take a look at some of the critical differences setting these two conditions apart as we settle into another cold season.

 

1. Early Cold and Flu Signs

The common cold typically begins with a sore throat, which can make swallowing and even talking difficult. This condition usually lasts for a couple days and is often joined by runny nose and chest congestion. Overall, these symptoms should only last somewhere between a few days and a week.

A flu, however, proceeds in a different way. For one, all of the symptoms above are more severe and they’re joined by other issues—including fever, headache, muscle aches, and soreness. Importantly, the flu is often marked by vomiting and diarrhea, which are rare with the common cold.

Colds

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