Flu Vaccine Q&A

What’s the difference between a cold and the flu?

While a cold and the flu have similar symptoms, they are actually very different respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. The flu is typically worse than the common cold and symptoms are more intense. These can include fever, chills, body aches, extreme fatigue and a dry cough. On the other hand, symptoms of a cold can include a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing and a mild cough. The common cold also usually doesn’t result in serious health problems like pneumonia or hospitalization, both of which can be complications of the flu. Your doctor can help you determine whether you have a cold or the flu, and guide your treatment. The best way to prevent colds is washing hands with soap and water often. Flu prevention includes washing hands often and getting an annual flu vaccine. Flu vaccines are typically available at doctor’s offices and local pharmacies. Get the full answer from Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, here.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 22, 2015

Last Updated:
September 24, 2015