Colds and the flu often occur around the same time of year and both have similar, unpleasant symptoms. While it can be hard to differentiate between the two, it’s important to pinpoint your symptoms to determine the best course of treatment.
“Distinguishing between a cold and the flu can be difficult because many of the symptoms overlap,” said Chad Sherwood, M.D., chief medical officer at Urgent Team Family of Urgent Care & Walk-in Centers. “A sudden onset of fever and body aches are some of the most common differentiators, although not everyone with flu will have both these symptoms. Getting to a healthcare provider for testing within 48 hours of experiencing symptoms can help, as there are medications that can minimize the symptoms of flu when action is taken quickly.”
Cold vs. Flu
While both a cold and the flu generally attack the respiratory system producing many or all of the same symptoms, flu can affect the entire body and generally lasts longer.
To confirm a diagnosis of flu, a healthcare provider will swab your nose or throat to test for the virus. For the most accurate results, the test should be performed shortly after the onset of symptoms.