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Cold Vs. Flu-How To Tell The Difference



The aches. The pains. Fatigue. These are typical symptoms that people experience when they’re ill. Most of the time, we tend to use over-the-counter medications to self medicate ourselves back into a healthy state, but there’s a difference between curing a cold and curing the flu, and if you don’t know which one you have, you could treat yourself incorrectly.

Instead of trying to guess if you have a small cold or if you have the flu, use the following information to help you learn how to tell the difference.


Having a fever is a good sign that you have the flu. Most colds tend to stick with the nasal passages and rarely ever affect your internal body temperature. If your body temperature is higher than normal, it’s a good sign you have the flu.

Stuffy Nose

A stuffy nose is a major indicator of a regular cold. Those who suffer from colds will typically experience congestion and pain in their nasal cavities, something that most people with the flu do not experience.


There’s a difference between being tired and finding it almost impossible to keep your eyes open. If you are completely exhausted and find yourself sleeping most of the day away, it’s a sign that you have the flu. Colds will make you tired, but you will be able to function without constantly sleeping. When you have the flu, you’ll be fighting to keep your eyes open.

Aches and Pains

Any type of illness will make your body hurt, but if you are in constant pain, it’s a sign of the flu. Aches and pains associated with common colds tend to be slight and less severe than aches and pains associated with the flu. If you’re uncomfortable no matter how you position your body, you have the flu.


A headache is a sign of having the flu, but if you have a cold, you may experience a sinus headache. It’s extremely important for you to pay attention to the area in which your headache is occurring. If the pain is located between your eyes, it’s a sinus headache, and these are associated with the common cold due to the congestion in your nasal cavity. If the pain in your head is higher in your forehead or on the sides of your head, it could be a sign of the flu.


Vomiting and diarrhea are associated with the flu, especially stomach and swine flu. If you are experiencing either of these symptoms, it’s important that you treat your illness like the flu and not as a cold.

Both the flu and the common cold will take days (and possibly up to one week) to fully leave your body and allow you to feel like yourself again. Over the counter medications and plenty of rest can help to alleviate some of your symptoms, but if you have the flu, you may want to see a doctor for a medication that is stronger.