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Do I Have a Cold or the Flu?

When you feel sick, it’s often hard to tell if you’re experiencing the common cold or the more serious influenza. MDLIVE’s Dr. Gurland is here to help explain the differences between the two conditions and how they’re treated.

Cold Symptoms

With colds, you typically will not experience a high fever, your temperature likely falling between 99oF-100oF. You may, however, have a headache, minor aches and pains, and some fatigue, though extreme exhaustion is rare. Other symptoms include a cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, and sneezing.

Flu Symptoms

With the flu, you usually have a high fever, with a temperature between 100oF-102oF (sometimes higher). This fever can last for 3-4 days. Headaches, aches and pains (possibly severe), and extreme exhaustion or fatigue are common, and these symptoms can last for 2-3 weeks. Other symptoms often include a cough, which can be severe. However, while a sore throat, stuffy nose, and sneezing can occur with the flu, they are not always present.

Dr. Gurland’s Advice

Colds are typically treated with antihistamines, decongestants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines.
The flu is typically treated with a prescription for antiviral medication, as well as instructions to drink plenty of fluids and rest. You can also take comfort from the traditional chicken soup treatment, which has proven to be beneficial.
Still not sure whether you have a cold or the flu? Get a diagnosis and any needed prescriptions from a board-certified doctor. Sign in to MDLIVE today to schedule an appointment via secure online video, phone, or the MDLIVE app.


About Dr. Gurland

Board certified in internal medicine, Dr. Gurland’s breadth of knowledge as an experienced healthcare executive spans over three decades. Dr. Gurland is a graduate of Hahnemann University School of Medicine and trained at Mount Sinai Medical Center General Internal Medicine Residency Program.

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Raffaelo Zucco