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This year’s flu season has been very severe.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, the peak of the flu season is still a few weeks away.


Getting a flu vaccination and frequently washing your hands can help you from getting sick. However, practicing cold and flu prevention isn’t a 100 percent guarantee you won’t get a cold or the flu.

If you do get sick this season, you might wonder which of the two illnesses you have. Learn the different symptoms of colds and flu — and what you can do to feel better.


Tips for Prevention

  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick
  • ​Wash your hands frequently

  • Clean surfaces with a germ-killing disinfectant

  • If you have flu symptoms, do not go to work or school to help lessen the chance of infecting others.

Cold Versus Flu: What’s the Difference?

Cold symptoms and treatment

Colds usually start with a sore throat. By day four or five, a stuffy, a runny nose and cough are common. Children are also most likely to get a fever.

You can treat colds with over-the-counter decongestants, pain relievers and fever reducers. If symptoms don’t improve in a week, you can contact Teladoc to rule out a sinus infection or allergies.

Flu symptoms and treatment

Anyone with the flu can experience the following symptoms: a sore throat, cough, muscle aches, headache, high fever (100 degrees and up) and congestion. Flu can also cause vomiting and diarrhea. Flu-related weakness and fatigue are also common and can last up to three weeks.

Flu complications and treatment

Some flu symptoms, like chest discomfort and a cough, can lead to pneumonia. The elderly and anyone with heart and lung problems are at the highest risk for pneumonia — watch for shortness of breath and a fever that goes away and returns a day or two later. Flu can also lead to sinusitis, ear infections and bronchitis.

Flu may be treated with over-the-counter decongestants, pain relievers and fever reducers — or prescription antiviral drugs. Pneumonia can result in hospitalization, so it’s important to practice flu prevention.