Your nose is stuffy, your throat is scratchy, and your head is pounding. How do you know whether you have a cold or the flu? Symptoms can overlap, so unless you see your doctor, it’s hard to know for sure.
Influenza (flu) and the common cold are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Flu is caused by influenza viruses only, whereas the common cold can be caused by a number of different viruses.
Because flu and the common cold have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are typically more intense and begin more abruptly. Colds are usually milder than flu.
Here are some basic guidelines for telling the difference between cold and flu symptoms, and how to know which one you have.