Here ’s How to Tell if You Have a Cold or the Flu

Your nose is dripping like a leaky faucet, your throat is sore and you can’t stop sneezing. You don’t have a fever, but you feel wiped out—like you could curl up on the floor and fall asleep. Do you have a cold or the flu? If you guessed cold, you’re probably right. But experts say that differentiating the common cold (an upper respiratory infection) from the flu (influenza) can be trickier than most people assume. “There is huge overlap among non-influenza viruses and the symptoms produced by influenza and other bugs,” says Dr. Bruce Barrett, a professor of family medicine and community health at the University of Wisconsin. While many people associate the flu with a fever, Barrett says this isn’t always true. “Unless someone comes in during the peak of flu season”—a two-month period that typically lands somewhere between November and March—“I can’t tell very well whether it’s cold or flu based solely on symptoms,” he says. But while colds and flu can in many cases look a lot alike, there are some predictable differences. For one thing, colds usually take a few days to build up, while the flu comes on more abruptly. “Sometimes [a flu] patient goes from well to very sick in a few minutes,” says Dr. Jeffrey Steinbauer, a professor of family and community medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Cold and flu symptoms A cold typically lasts about three to five days, while a flu ...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized public health Source Type: news

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