Cold or flu? The symptoms that make all the difference

Cold or flu The symptoms that make all the difference

Cough, runny nose, fatigue… Colds and flu are two common infections in fall/winter whose symptoms can be confused.

These diseases threaten us when it is cold… The common cold (nasopharyngitis) and seasonal flu are two viral respiratory infections common in autumn-winter. Although the symptoms are similar, there are still differences.

A high fever: it’s the flu!

Generally, a cold does not cause a fever (or a very slight fever: maximum 38°C). On the other hand, influenza is characterized by a sudden fever who can reach the 40°C. This high fever is often accompanied by sweating. Warning: a fever that persists more than 3 days (or 2 days if it is really strong)which is poorly supported or which is above 40°C should lead you to consult a doctor immediately.

Significant aches and pains: more like the flu

An aching body with pain muscular and joint which look like body achesparticularly marked at the back, are often indicative of the flu. These muscle/joint pains usually last for 2 to 4 days. On the other hand, aches are non-existent (or very weak) during a cold.

A runny nose: it’s a cold

Runny nose, accompanied by stuffy nose, is rather typical of a cold. On the other hand, it is less common in cases of flu or only observable in children. Likewise, sneezing is more frequent with a cold, less with the flu.

Headache that lasts? Suggestive of the flu

Headaches are typical of the flu and can sometimes be intense and last up to 3 days. On the other hand, they are rare or even non-existent during a cold.

Cough: more intense in case of flu

Cough is a non-specific symptom and can be common to several winter ailments. The typical flu cough is usually dry and painful at first (then oily later). It generally lasts between one and two weeks and intensifies at night because mucus is less clear from your airways when you are lying down. In case of cold, cough is possible but it is generally lighter and it is generally dry.

Greater fatigue in case of flu

It’s difficult to quantify, but fatigue seems more severe and intensifies with the flu. Fatigue (or the feeling of weakness or even despondency) can even last Several weeks.

Nausea and vomiting: more like the flu

Digestive symptoms like nausea, feeling sick or vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain (stomach cramps) are not the most common symptoms of the flu but they can be present, especially in children under 4 years old, much more rarely in adults. On the other hand, the common cold does not cause digestive symptoms.

► Complications are rare in case of cold, more common in cases of influenza (hospitalization, death in certain cases)

► The viruses responsible for these two diseases are not the same: we thus identify more than 200 viruses capable of causing a cold, such as rhinovirus, coronavirus or respiratory syncytial virus For example. The flu is caused by influenza viruses, classified into 3 groups: A, B and C. The most common are those in group A.