What’s the difference between a cold and a flu? Here’s all you need to know | health and fitness | Hindustan Times
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What’s the difference between a cold and a flu? Here’s all you need to know

Experts say “localising” symptoms are the first clues to the underlying cause of the infection.

health and fitness Updated: Mar 15, 2017 11:17 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Both viruses cause symptoms of cough, cold, bodyache and fever that usually last for five days to a week.
Both viruses cause symptoms of cough, cold, bodyache and fever that usually last for five days to a week.(Shutterstock)

Flu infections are increasing in India and Sri Lanka, with the main viruses causing infection are influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus followed by influenza B virus, said the World Health Organisation.

But with adenoviruses and coronavirues that cause the cold -- the most common disease in humans – also running rampant, it’s tough to tell the two infections apart.

Both viruses cause symptoms of cough, cold, bodyache and fever that usually last for five days to a week and are passed from person to person by droplets from coughs and sneezes or by touching contaminated surfaces, such as door handles and tabletops.

Experts say “localising” symptoms are the first clues to the underlying cause of the infection.

Here’s how to tell the difference.

Symptoms Seasonal flu Cold
Onset Abrupt Gradual
Fever Usual; lasts 4-5 days Rare
Aches Usual; often severeSlight
Chills Fairly common Uncommon
Fatigue Usual Sometimes
Sneezing Sometimes Common
Stuffy noseSometimes Common
Sore throat Sometimes Common
Cough Severe Mild, hacking cough
Headache Common Rare

Source: Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organisation