Just as the H1N1 was sweeping the headlines, a particularly nasty cold virus swept through a friend's son's school. Parents reported flu-like symptoms, but what made it just a cold? How can you tell? Here are a few tips to help you tell the difference.
1. Fever The flu usually comes with a high fever. Some people occasionally experience a fever with a cold, but this is uncommon.
2. Speed of onset Flu symptoms will come on suddenly within three to six hours. You will feel terrible quickly. Cold symptoms tend to emerge more gradually.
3. Nasal congestion A cold almost always involves nasal congestion. This is less common with the flu.
4. Aches and pains You may experience aches and pains with a cold, but they are usually mild and manageable with acetaminophen. Aches are much more severe with a flu. People suffering from the flu will also experience more severe fatigue.
5. Coughing Coughing in a cold is usually productive. With the flu, it is usually dry and unproductive.
A cold usually dissipates after about a week, but if not treated, the flu can lead to more serious conditions like bacterial infections or pneumonia. If you are in doubt, see your doctor!