Medicine

Difference between cold and flu

Main difference

The main differences between cold and flu is the presence of fever, aches, chills, tiredness, cough, headache and sneezing.

What is cold?

Cold is a common infection of the nose and throat. This mainly affects the nose. Cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, and fever are obvious symptoms of a cold. It usually lasts seven to ten days. However, some cold symptoms last up to three weeks. More than 200 strains of viruses are the cause of the cold with ‘rhinoviruses’ being the most common. The common cold mainly affects the nose than the throat and sinuses, and sometimes also affects both eyes through conjunctivitis. The basic reason for cold is the resistant response to infection rather than tissue destruction by the viruses themselves.

What is the flu?

The flu is also a common but serious type of upper body infection. It is caused by the ‘influenza virus’. It can range from mild to severe. High fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, cough, and fatigue are common symptoms of the flu. These symptoms are exhibited after two days of exposure to the virus and mostly last for more than a week. However, the cough can last for more than two weeks. Nausea and vomiting may occur in children, but are not common in adults. The flu can occur due to previous health problems, such as heart failure or asthma. The flu virus is usually spread through the air or if a person touches any surface infected with the virus and then touches their mouth or eyes.

Key differences

  1. Fever is present mainly in the flu, while in the cold it is rare.
  2. The patient feels mild pain in case of cold and usually feels severe pain in case of flu.
  3. The level of tiredness is low in the cold and in the flu it can vary from moderate to severe.
  4. In the cold, the symptoms appear gradually, while in the flu they can appear in 3 to 6 hours.
  5. The cough is cutting and productive in the case of a cold, while in the case of the flu it is dry and unproductive.
  6. Sneezing, nasal congestion, and sore throat are very common with a cold, while all of these are rare with the flu.
  7. Headaches are rare in colds and very common in the flu.
  8. There are no signs of vomiting or nausea in case of a cold, whereas with the flu there may be nausea and vomiting in children, but these are not common in adults.
  9. The influenza virus is the main virus that causes influenza. Rhinoviruses are the main viruses that cause colds.

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