Cold and flu

 
Is it a cold or is it the flu? When you feel lousy, you probably don't much care about what you have — you just want it to go away. The differences between the cold and flu can be subtle, but it's important to be able to tell one from the other, as the flu can lead to more complicated illnesses.

Cold

A cold usually starts with a sore throat, followed by a runny nose and congestion, and is punctuated by a cough. Adults don't usually develop fever with a cold, though it can happen, but children are more likely to spike a fever with the onset of a cold. With more than 200 viruses in circulation, getting a cold — especially in fall and winter — is all but guaranteed. And with no cure, your best treatment is to find ways to make yourself comfortable while muddling through it.

Flu

Like a cold, the flu is a respiratory illness. But with the flu, symptoms are slightly different and may include fever, body aches, fatigue and dry cough. In general, the flu is more severe than a cold, which is why we recommend getting your flu shot each year. If you are among the classes of individuals who are more vulnerable to picking up infection (elderly and infants; those who have respiratory conditions; those whose immunity is suppressed by illness or medical treatment), contracting the flu can lead to pneumonia and bacterial infections, and could easily put you in the hospital.

How can you feel better?

Whether you choose home remedies, calling our 24/7 nurse advice line or visiting your health care provider, we have plenty of resources to help you manage your symptoms and get on the road to feeling well.