Knowing the Difference Between Cold and Influenza Symptoms


The common cold and influenza are both respiratory illnesses that are caused by viruses. A person has around a 20% chance of getting influenza, but is likely to contract a cold 2-3 times, in an average year. Because these two illnesses have similar symptoms, it is important to understand what makes them different.

Difference Between Cold and Influenza Symptoms

The Common Cold Is Less Intense than the Flu

Colds usually have a much milder effect on a person than does the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose, with sneezing. Coughing can be present with either disease. High fever, headache, and body aches are usually not associated with a cold.

Influenza Is Felt Throughout Your Body

While getting a cold is definitely a nuisance, getting the flu makes you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck. Flu symptoms include fever and chills, coughing and sore throat, nasal irritation, headache and body aches, with an overall feeling of fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea, though that is more common in children than adults. A rapid test done at your primary doctor’s office or at our urgent care clinic can verify if you have the flu.

Treatment Involves Rest and Avoidance

If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people, except to get medical care if you feel it is necessary. Anti-viral drugs, if started early, can help shorten the length of your illness. If you are in a high risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider.

Urgent Care Network Omaha

Urgent Care Network Omaha is an independent, locally-owned group of three urgent care clinics in the Omaha metropolitan area. Our three clinics are:

The focus of Urgent Care Network Omaha clinics is to take care of the issues that aren’t extreme, but do need medical help. We treat minor illnesses like the flu, infections, fevers, nausea, etc. Also minor injuries such as sprains, possible broken bones, lacerations, sports injuries, etc. We also provide occupational health services like work comp care, pre-employment physicals, drug screens, etc. More details are available on our services page.

The information contained on this webpage is for educational purposes as well as to provide general information and general understanding of the pertinent medical issue only, not to provide a specific diagnosis. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. By using this blog/web site you understand there is no doctor patient relationship between you and the blog/web site publisher. The information included on this site should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from a licensed medical professional in your state. Neither Urgent Care Network, its subsidiaries, affiliates, assignees or successors in interest, nor any other party assume liability for loss or damage due to reliance on content of this blog/web site. If you are experiencing a severe medical issue, you should seek emergency assistance immediately.