The Difference Between the Cold and FluFall usually brings with it changing colors, cooler temperatures and the inevitable flu season. The months of October through May is the prime season for cold and flu, and many people suffer through these viruses each year. Knowing the difference between the cold and flu is vital for getting through the season without suffering.

Cold Symptoms

The common cold usually starts off slowly, with a slight sore throat that usually lasts for about two days. Other nasal symptoms like a runny nose, cough and congestion follow soon after and usually appear on the fourth or fifth day of the virus. Fever is uncommon in cold sufferers, although some people may suffer from a low grade fever. Children are more likely to experience fever with a cold than adults.

Mucous is often thick and dark with a cold and you may find yourself blowing your nose frequently. The first few days of your cold symptoms are the incubation period, and it is during this time that you are most contagious and likely to pass on your virus to others. Be sure to wash your hands frequently and stay away from work and other spaces where you can pass the virus along to others.

Flu Symptoms

Unlike the common cold, flu symptoms appear with a rapid onset. Common flu symptoms include high fever, body aches, chills and sweats. You may experience a sore throat, headache and pain. Weakness in the body is common and many people find that getting out of bed is a chore with the flu. Some people experience cough and congestion with the flu. In general, flu symptoms mirror those of the common cold but are often more severe and longer in duration.

The flu is also highly contagious, and is most dangerous to the elderly, infants and people with compromised immune systems. It is common for people with the flu to develop pneumonia, so doctors recommend that people who experience shortness of breath with the flu to see consult a medical professional immediately.

The cold and flu season can send even the healthiest person for a loop. Runny noses, fever, coughing and headaches can be miserable, but there are ways that you can avoid catching the flu or the common cold. Since most viruses are transmitted through the mucous membranes, washing your hands frequently will help you to avoid getting infected. Avoid touching your mouth or nose in order to stop the spread of germs. As always, getting the seasonal flu vaccine each year is the most effective way to avoid contracting the virus. Medical professionals recommend that infants older than six months, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems receive the vaccine each year.

When it comes to surviving the cold and flu season, knowing the difference between the two can help you to feel better quicker. While there are similarities between the two viruses, they may differ in intensity and duration. Take steps to remain healthy and avoid the misery of cold and flu season.