Cold and Flu Symptoms

At times, it is difficult to determine if an individual has a cold, or the flu. Below are symptoms of cold and flu.

Cold and Flu Symptoms

Symptoms Cold Flu
Fever Rare Usual; high (100°F to 102°F; occasionally higher, especially in young children); lasts 3 to 4 days
Headache Rare Common
General aches, pains Slight Usual; often severe
Fatigue, weakness Sometimes Usual; can last up to 2 to 3 weeks
Extreme exhaustion Never usual; at the beginning of the illness
Stuffy nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore throat Common Sometimes
Chest discomfort, cough Mild to moderate; hacking cough Common; can become severe
Treatment Antihistamines
Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medicines (NSAIDs)
Antiviral medicines - see your doctor
Prevention Wash your hands often
Avoid close contact with anyone with a cold
Annual vaccination; antiviral medicines - see your doctor
Complications Sinus congestion
Middle ear infection
Bronchitis, pneumonia; can be life-threatening

Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (

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Last Editorial Review: 10/7/2008