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​​​​​​​​​Do I Have a Cold or the Flu?

Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, symptoms of the flu are more intense than a cold. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose, while the flu often caused body aches and chils.

Treating the Cold and the Flu

Basic care for adults and children who have a cold or the flu is the same:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Take pain relievers to relieve possible muscle aches; children should not take aspirin.
  • For both adults and children, antiviral medications can lessen the severity of the flu, but must be started within 48 hours after being infected to be effective. Your caregiver can prescribe appropriate antivirals for  children and adults.

​When to take your child to the emergency room

  • ​Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids or failing to urinate
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Flu symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough or a fever with rash