Flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.

  • Flu and the common cold have similar symptoms (e.g. fever, sore throat). It can be difficult to tell the difference between them.
  • Your doctor can give you a flu test within the first few days of your illness to determine whether you have the flu.
  • In general, the flu is worse than the common cold.
  • Symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense with the flu.
  • Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.
  • Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.