How do you know if you have flu symptoms or cold symptoms, and how to tell the difference?

Flu symptoms and cold symptoms often mimic one another:  both can have nasal congestion, cough, body aches, headaches and malaise. A common cold, however, rarely has symptoms of fever above 100 degrees. With flu symptoms, you will probably have a fever initially with the flu virus and you will feel miserable. Body and muscle aches are also more common with the flu.

When to call the doctor with flu or cold symptoms?

If you already have flu or cold symptoms, it’s important to call your doctor or come in to West Hartford if you are experiencing any of the following severe symptoms:

  • Persistent fever: This can be a sign of another bacterial infection that should be treated.
  • Painful swallowing: Although a sore throat from a cold or flu can cause mild discomfort, severe pain could mean strep throat, which requires treatment by a doctor.
  • Persistent coughing: When a cough doesn’t go away after two or three weeks, it could be bronchitis, which may need an antibiotic. Postnasal drip or sinusitis can also result in a persistent cough. In addition, asthma is another cause of persistent coughing.
  • Persistent congestion and headaches: When colds  and allergies  cause congestion and blockage of sinus passages, they can lead to a sinus infection (sinusitis). If you have pain around the eyes and face with thick nasal discharge after a week, you may have a bacterial infection and possibly need an antibiotic. Most sinus infections, however, do not need an antibiotic.

The good news is that flu is treatable and avoidable. Here at AFC Urgent Care in West Hartford we offer the flu vaccine and treatment for the flu as well.

It’s not too late to get your flu shot. More cases of the flu are reported in February than any other time of the year. Get your flu shot now, no appointment needed, although you might want to save time and register online.