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Cold Vs. Flu which is which?

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As we approach the end of the year our attention turns to holiday festivities and family gatherings where we will share food, stories, and germs. Yeah, nobody is excited about that last one, but we all know it’s true. You think that cute toddler is offering you a bite of her cookie, but really, it is just the flu packaged in a delicious baked good.

So, colds, the flu, they all make us feel terrible, but what is the difference? Ripped straight from the CDC for your viewing pleasure is an outline of what differentiates the two.


Symptom onsetAbruptGradual
ChillsFairly CommonUncommon
Stuffy NoseSometimesCommon
Sore ThroatSometimesCommon
Chest Discomfort/CoughCommonMild to Moderate


Sometimes, it is difficult, or even impossible, to tell a bad cold from the flu. You would need to contact your provider to discuss the symptoms. However, even though colds are miserable, they generally are not associated with progression to complications and tend to have more stuffy/runny nose symptoms whereas the flu can lead to more serious health issues.

Let’s be real, when an adorable 2-year-old offers you a crushed, saliva covered cookie, you’re probably going to eat it so make sure you take enough rest, drink enough water, take your vitamin C and get your flu shot…. give your immune system a fighting chance. If all this fails, don’t hesitate to contact your provider. We’re happy to help!

-Brooke Rieth NP

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