Is it common cold or flu? How can you tell the difference?

cold or flu

The other day my son woke up feverish with regular coughing and sneezing. Much before I could examine him or take him to the doctor, my husband exclaimed he is having a cold. And as there was still time for doctor’s appointment, I started with home remedies and care for treating my son’s cold.
Hours later, after a brief examination by the doctor, it was confirmed that Viraj had caught Flu. I was surprised at how similar and yet different these two diseases appeared. I immediately inquired the doctor about the symptoms of cold and flu asking him to state the differences between both. After all, it is important to know the difference to find the right treatment!

What are the cold symptoms?

A cold usually begins with a sore throat. It is common during seasonal changes, consumption of cold drinks and food or exposure to low temperatures. Within 2-3 days of catching a cold, one can spot symptoms like runny nose, nasal congestion, coughing, the formation of dark mucus and constant uneasiness! While adults might not catch fever during the initial stage, children are prone to fever during cold, but this does not mean a bacterial infection or sinus.
Cold is also contagious and can be passed on to others at home, office or school. Anyone suffering from cold is advised ample rest, warm food, medicines, and enough sleep for about a week. If the cold persists for more than a week, it is better to diagnose with a doctor as there are chances of bacterial infection or allergy.

What are the Flu symptoms?

Flu or influenza is a viral infection that attacks the lungs, throat, and nose. Flu symptoms are far more severe and evident than cold symptoms. The symptoms include sore throat, headache, sore muscles, fever, cough, and nasal congestion. Some types of flu also cause diarrhea and vomiting. Generally, Flu or influenza spreads across the environment affecting people around an area of the city altogether. The flu virus enters the body through mucous membranes of the nose, mouth, or eyes.
If flu persists for more than a week or keeps recurring, it can result in Pneumonia. Affecting the health of children and adults alike, Pneumonia is a life-threatening disease especially for people with heart and lung problems. Maintaining good hygiene, staying indoors during the influenza attack and taking care of the immunity system is the best prevention from the disease.

How to tell the difference between Cold and Flu!

It is often challenging to depict if the person has caught a cold or flu. But experts say that measuring temperature is the best way to diagnose the problem. While cold results in fever only after a day or two, flu raises the temperature immediately. Flu also comes with its miserable feelings of body ache, sore muscles and more.
One distinct difference between them both is that Cold can occur all around the year, but flu season generally runs from fall to spring. From December to April if anyone in the house shows symptoms of common cold or flu – it is most likely for them to catch flu.

When should you call the doctor?

While we should be responsible for health and seek doctor’s consultation as soon as we encounter a health concern, it is important to read the symptoms and visit the doctor immediately. If there are any of the severe symptoms like persistent fever, sore throat, coughing, headache, chest pain, etc you should visit a doctor. If your child starts to show signs of breathlessness, irritation, dizziness, lethargy and is not drinking enough fluids – it is time to rush to the doctor!
Understanding the difference between cold and flu is extremely important to seek the right treatment. Now that you can tell some of the symptoms apart, it is wise to visit the right doctor for a solicited treatment! #IPromiseToStopFlu


© Ruchi Verma


Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ruchie Verma (WigglingPen) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Disclaimer – This article is an advisory piece. Before you medication kindly consult a medical practitioner or nutritionist.


Ruchi Verma

Certified parenting teen practitioner, multiple Award winner, mother of two active kids believes in sharing the right source of information to readers which could help them in every possible way!!

Recommended Articles


  1. Thanks for bringing in awareness about understanding the difference between common cold and flu. It is important that as parents we know how to proceed.

  2. You very nicely explained the basic differentiation between the common cold and flu. Awareness is also a preventive measure to avoid any complications.

  3. Pointing out the differences common cold and flu you have helped many parents who otherwise might remain ignorant. Helpful post.

  4. No doubt prevention is better than cure. And thank for clearing many doubts about flu vaccine, indeed this has become need of the time now.

  5. Glad I came across your post, now I can tell the difference between cold and flu. Very informative and enlightening post.

  6. That’s quite an informative post, we usually get confused with flu and normal cold. Vaccination is important against flu.

  7. It gets difficult to identify sometimes specially with small kids. Flu is so dangerous for both kids are adults. Preventive measures are always important

  8. This post is equally important and informative. We all should know the difference and when to call the doctor. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I I used to consider flu as a common term but that’s not true, it can be fatal if not treated on time

  10. I was not aware so deeply about the difference between common cold and flu… Thanks for the detailed post ruchi.

  11. I am glad that you had shared the points to differentiate flu from common cold. We often fail to identify.

  12. Not every cold is curable by home remedies and OTC medicines. We have to be very careful with the symptoms to guess if its a flu. better to get the whole family vaccinated.

  13. […] Is It Common Cold Or Flu? How Can You Tell The Difference? – Wigglingpen […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.