Parkridge Medical Group January 26, 2015

Especially at the height of cold and flu season, it’s important to know the difference between the common cold and a potentially more serious case of the flu so that proper treatment steps can be taken.

You wake up in the morning with a cough, high fever and full body chills. You didn’t get the flu vaccine this year, so you are worried your symptoms might point to influenza—but how do you know if you have the flu or simply a common cold? Use the following guide to help you decide:

  • The flu is fast. Many people with the flu go from feeling fine one day to extremely sick the next. Cold symptoms tend to build up over a longer period of time.
  • The flu brings fever. Colds may cause a low-grade fever at or below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but temperatures between 102 degrees and 106 degrees signal the arrival of the flu.
  • The flu causes fatigue. Colds can make you feel tired, but the flu typically results in extreme exhaustion—many patients say they feel like they’ve been hit by a bus.
  • The flu forms muscle aches. Body aches and chills are typical of the flu, but are rarely (if ever) present with a cold.
  • The flu produces no phlegm. Colds are often accompanied by a runny nose and wet cough, symptoms that are uncommon with the flu.

The flu can aggravate chronic conditions such as asthma and congestive heart failure and cause secondary ailments—including pneumonia, bronchitis and ear infections—that could become life threatening. If you think you have the flu, see a physician right away. Proper treatment, including antiviral medication, can help you get over the flu faster.

It’s never too late to get your flu vaccine, the best way to prevent the flu. To schedule an appointment online now, visit