How to Tell the Difference Between Cold and Flu Symptoms

Many infections, like the flu and the common cold, are hard for people to tell apart. As a result, they may take the wrong remedies to address their condition. In this post, we explore some easy ways that you can use to distinguish between the common cold and the flu.

The Onset of Symptoms

For influenza, the onset is sudden. For example, you may go to bed fine and wake up with full-blown symptoms. However, cold symptoms start gradually, and you are unlikely to be caught off-guard when they fully manifest. Tracking how suddenly symptoms showed up can help you tell these infections apart.

Symptom Severity

Whether you suffer from a cold or flu, symptoms like headache, body weakness or tiredness, and muscle pain often manifest. However, cold symptoms are typically mild, while flu symptoms are more severe. For example, body weakness and fatigue are mild and brief if you have a common cold. However, these symptoms are pronounced and can last for nearly three weeks if you have the flu.


Another way to quickly tell cold or flu apart is by taking your temperature. Influenza comes with a fever, and your temperature will exceed 100℉ for several days. A cold will rarely cause your temperature to rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Symptom Duration

Flu symptoms usually last for 3-5 days, while the common cold symptoms last longer, typically a week or more. However, factors unique to an individual can influence the condition’s duration. For example, if your immunity is low, flu symptoms can persist for more than a week.

Not Sure If It’s a Cold or Flu? Get Tested at Alamo City Urgent Care

If you are in doubt as to whether what you are experiencing is flu or cold, visit Alamo City Urgent Care in San Antonio, TX. Our staff will conduct tests that will definitively tell you whether you have a common cold, influenza, or other similar infections.