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You’re sick and you figure it’s probably just a cold so you don’t need to go see your doctor, right? Well, the flu and the common cold are both caused by viruses and they have similar symptoms. The flu is usually more severe and can cause death in certain vulnerable populations like the immunocompromised, elderly and young children.
Influenza (flu) and the common cold are both viral infections, but they are caused by different viruses. While they have symptoms that can overlap, the flu tends to have symptoms that are sudden onset and more severe.
Typical flu-like symptoms include:
Unlike the flu, there is usually no fever associated with a cold. Cold-like symptoms include:
There is no test for the common cold while the flu can be diagnosed by a simple nasal swab. If detected via nasal swab, within 48 hours of symptom onset, treatment for the flu includes:
You should head to the emergency room if you experience any of the following while you have the flu:
Children should be brought to the emergency room if you notice:
While the common cold has similar symptoms as the flu, usually the symptoms are more mild and have a more gradual onset. Both influenza and the common cold will eventually resolve on their own in healthy people. However, influenza can cause complication in people who are considered to be ‘high risk’.
If you have flu-like symptoms, you should contact your primary care physician. If your symptoms are more severe (like the ones listed above), it may be time to take a trip to the emergency room or urgent care located nearest to you.
WakeMed Physician Practices features board-certified primary care, internal medicine and family medicine physicians conveniently located throughout the Triangle. Find a primary care office near you, and request an appointment today.
3000 New Bern Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27610