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How Can You Tell a Cold From the Flu?

By    |   Friday, 07 Nov 2014 05:12 PM

Question: Is there a sure-fire way to tell the difference between a cold and the flu?
 
Dr. Hibberd's answer:
 
Yes. We can often distinguish them by their clinical symptoms, but a rapid on-site test can be helpful in confirming influenza.
 
A cold is usually a mild illness, causing minor sore throat, nasal congestion, occasional low-grade fever, and perhaps a dry cough. It usually comes and goes within six days without complication. It does not generally produce the significant body aches and gastrointestinal symptoms that the flu does. Most patients with colds are able to go to work as it tends to mainly affect the upper airway passages, and general weakness is unusual with the common cold.
 
Influenza, on the other hand, is much more severe. It can cause a sudden onset of generalized body aches, fever, headache, cough, congestion, nausea, weakness, loss of appetite, and even vomiting. This is an illness that it is hard to go to work with; you are usually too ill and too weak.
 
Patients with influenza are usually much more ill appearing than those with uncomplicated common cold. Hospitalization and death may occur with influenza illness, but colds rarely if ever cause complications that lead to hospitalization or death.
 

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You can usually distinguish a cold from the flu by clinical symptoms, but a rapid test can be helpful in confirming influenza.
cold, flu, influenza, difference
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2014-12-07
Friday, 07 Nov 2014 05:12 PM
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