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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Difference Between the Flu and a Cold
The flu and the common cold are both types of upper respiratory infections (URIs). Both are caused by viruses. But the flu is not the same as the common cold.
Flu symptoms are usually much worse than a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly and lasts longer.
Symptoms may include:
The symptoms usually are the worst for the first 3 or 4 days. In most healthy people, the flu will go away in 5 to 7 days. But it can take 1 to 2 weeks to get completely better.
The flu usually occurs during the late fall and winter.
Cold symptoms usually come on over the course of a couple of days.
Colds usually last 1 to 2 weeks. As the cold gets worse, your nose may get stuffy with thicker mucus.
You can catch a cold at any time of year, but they are more common in late winter and early spring.
Current as ofJune 26, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineWilliam H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Current as of:
June 26, 2019
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
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