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How can you tell whether you have a cold or the flu?

The flu season is the worst it’s been in nearly a decade, and so a lot of people are getting sick. And since symptoms of the cold and the flu are similar, you may be wondering how to tell if you’re coming down with a cold or if it’s the flu.

For instance, with the flu, you may have gotten a flu shot…but then start to feel flu symptoms and, before you know it, you’re in bed for a week with the flu. Of course, for viruses, there are no magical pills to take to feel better. Instead, you need to wait them out — and stock up on plenty of fluids and rest in the meantime. But, we get it — you want to feel better ASAP, so you may try at-home flu hacks to get rid of the flu fast. These include anything from taking a hot shower to gargling with salt water. But how do you know it’s the flu and not a cold?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can tell if a person has the flu.” But, luckily, there are *some* ways you can try to decipher the mystery between a cold and the flu.

Cold symptoms tend to be more mild than flu symptoms.

You may have a stuffy or runny nose if you have a cold, but the main way to tell if it’s the flu and not the cold are if you have added symptoms like fever, the chills, body aches, sore throat, headache and fatigue.

Colds last for about a week. The flu gradually improves after a few days, but you can feel run down for a week or more.

Cold symptoms last for about a week, but if they last longer, you may have a bacterial infection and should see a doctor. The flu typically improves faster (after a few days), but because of the intensity of the flu you can feel run down for a week or more after.

The flu can lead to more serious health conditions.

You probably know that the flu is very bad this year across not only the U.S., but also the world. Most people who get the flu will recover in a few days to a week, but some people can develop complications. For example, people with chronic lung disease are at a higher risk for developing pneumonia. That said, if you have cold or flu symptoms that are worsening after a few days, contact your doctor immediately.

 

Originally created from here.

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