Thus, because both diseases have very similar signs and symptoms, they can easily be confused. However, both diseases differ depending on the means of transmission, the incubation period and the duration of the same. That is why, in this article, we will present the main differences between cold and flu so that each of them can be distinguished and the most appropriate treatment can be applied.
In general, the flu is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza family, a group of viruses that affect the person’s respiratory system, causing more or less severe flu symptoms. Basically, the flu usually has an incubation period of 24 to 96 hours and the contagious period begins 12 hours after the first contact with the virus.
On the other hand, flu symptoms have a sudden onset, with symptoms peaking in a few hours. In addition, the flu picture usually lasts from 2 to 5 days, but some symptoms such as cough and fatigue can take weeks to disappear. In this way, one of the first symptoms to appear is fever, which generally occurs above 38°C in adults and in children it can exceed 40°C.
Subsequently, symptoms such as headache and body ache, weakness, cough with sputum and sometimes there may be a runny nose or coryza (rhinitis), sneezing and sore throat are associated. Finally, the complications of the flu can be acute otitis media and/or pneumonia.
It should be noted that the cold is a mild viral respiratory infection, caused by different viruses such as Rhinovirus, Coronavirus, Adenovirus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Parainfluenza, among others. Mainly, the common cold usually has an incubation period of 24 to 72 hours and the contagious period begins 12 to 24 hours after the first contact with the virus. The symptom picture appears gradually and there is usually a worsening of the picture during the following 2 or 3 days. The duration of the cold ranges between 3 and 7 days in most cases, but in 25% of patients the illness can persist for up to 14 days.
Early symptoms of a cold include a runny or runny nose (rhinitis), sneezing, and a severe sore throat. Fever rarely occurs in adults, but mild fever may occur in children. Other symptoms associated with a cold include mild to moderate dry cough and headache. Finally, the common cold does not usually present weakness, body pain or sputum and can present complications of otitis media and sinusitis.
Once the definitions of cold and flu have been presented, we can highlight the following differences:
|It is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza family.||It is a mild viral respiratory infection, which can be caused by different viruses.|
|It has an incubation period of 24 to 96 hours.||It has an incubation period of 24 to 72 hours.|
|The onset of symptoms appears suddenly.||The onset of symptoms appears gradually.|
|Its duration ranges from two to five days, with the persistence of some symptoms for several weeks.||Its duration ranges from three to seven days, with persistence of some symptoms for up to 14 days.|