Cold and Flu treatment

Whether you are suffering from a cold or flu, you need to know the difference. Both have similar symptoms and both are caused by viruses. A common cold may include symptoms like cough, runny nose, congestion and sore throat. On the other hand, the flu has similar symptoms but will also cause fever, soreness in the muscles and headache. In case you are suffering from flu like symptoms, you will have to see your physician at the earliest.

A cold may make you feel horrible for a few days but the flu if not treated at the right time can lead to pneumonia and may need hospitalization. The flu can also cause other health problems. Let us discuss the symptoms of cold and flu in detail to understand it better.

Symptoms of cold

A cold normally begins with an itchy or a sore throat which will persist for at least 2 days. Thereafter, you may suffer from runny nose, along with cough and congestion. It is uncommon to see adults suffering from fever while having a cold but some people may have mild fever. Children usually suffer from cold and fever. You may experience watery secretions from the nose for the first 2-3 days after which the secretions become thicker and darker. It is natural for the nose to secrete this thick and dark mucus and may not always indicate a sinus infection.

It takes about a week for the cold symptoms to subside. The initial 2-3 days it is advisable that you stay from people as cold is contagious at this stage and you may pass your cold to others. If however, your cold does not improve even after a week, you may need to take antibiotics. There are chances that you may mistake symptoms of cold to be sinus infection or hay fever. However, if the symptoms improve after about a week then it is a cold and not an allergy. If the cold persists even after a week then it is highly recommended that you visit your doctor and get yourself examined and check for any allergy or sinusitis.

Symptoms of flu

Flu can be really annoying and its symptoms are more severe than that of cold. Flu symptoms may include cough, congestion, headache, fever, sore throat, pain in the muscles. Vomiting and diarrhea may also be seen in case of swine flu.

Normally flu symptoms show improvement after about 5 days. Flu may develop into more complicated pneumonia if not take care of. It is more commonly seen in young children, aged people and people suffering from lung problems or heart diseases. A common sign observed in pneumonia is that the fever may return after 2-3 days. You may also observe shortness of breath in case you are suffering from flu. All these symptoms must be told to your physician for proper treatment.

How to differentiate between cold and flu?

One best way to identify flu is to check your temperature. If you have a fever of above 101 degrees then it is more likely that you are suffering from flu. A common cold will rarely be accompanied with fever. You will also feel miserable due to flu and experience pain in your muscles and body.


The table below may help you to identify the symptoms better;

Cold Flu
Stuffy nose, sneezing Stuffy nose, sneezing
No exhaustion Extreme exhaustion in the initial days
Mild fever or no fever at all High fever of 100-102F among children lasting up to 4 days
Mild to moderate chest discomfort with cough Chest comfort may become severe
May cause sinusitis and middle ear infection May cause sinusitis, ear infection, bronchitis and even pneumonia
May or may not experience headache Headaches are very common in flu



Children will need immediate medical assistance if they experience the following symptoms;

Skin colour change to slight blue
Difficulty in breathing
Laziness and less activity
No interest in drinking fluids
Highly irritable disposition
Fever along with rashes on the body
Recurring symptoms of flu


Cold or flu, both are caused by viruses that enter the body through nose, mouth or eyes. These viruses spread every time you touch these areas. Hence, it is highly recommended that you maintain personal hygiene and wash your hands frequently to keep them germ –free to prevent cold and flu symptoms. In addition to frequent washing of your hands, you also need to get your flu vaccines on time. Children have to be given two doses of the flu vaccine with one month apart. Anti viral medications also help in case you have been exposed to flu like symptoms.

Flu can be life threatening if not treated at the right stage. Visit your doctor for proper diagnosis and always maintain good hygiene.

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