Is it a cold or the flu?

You wake up coughing, sneezing and congested and feel like you don't even have enough energy to get out of bed. You're sick!

But how sick are you? While many people are able to quickly recognize that

virus

 something is going through their system, many people are unable to differentiate between a common cold and influenza. The common cold and flu are different types of viral infections of the respiratory system. Because they share similar symptoms and may feel the same, it can be hard to tell them apart.

Both cold and flu viruses spread from person to person. This means that getting either a cold or the flu may be prevented by washing your hands often and avoiding close contact with anyone with a cold or the flu. If you are infected with the cold or flu virus, get plenty of rest to help fight the infection.  Drinking lots of fluids is also important to stay hydrated and loosen mucus.

Influenza vs. Common Cold

This chart features some tips to help you differentiate between the symptoms of influenza and the common cold. 

Symptoms

Influenza

Cold

Fever

Usually present

Rare

Aches

Usual, often severe

Slight

Chills

Fairly common

Uncommon

Tiredness

Moderate to severe

Mild

Symptom onset

Appear within 3 to 6 hours

Symptoms appear gradually

Coughing

Dry, unproductive cough

Hacking, productive cough

Sneezing

Uncommon

Common

Stuffy nose

Uncommon

Common

Sore throat

Uncommon

Common

Chest discomfort

Often severe

Mild to moderate

Headache

Common

Uncommon