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Is it a Cold or is it the Flu?

Colds and influenza (flu) are highly contagious respiratory illnesses. Both have similar symptoms, but they differ in severity, as you can see in this chart. In general, flu is worse than the common cold, with more intense symptoms.

People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems.

The flu can be mild to severe, but also can be life-threatening. Pneumonia, a lung infection, is a serious complication of the flu that happens in some people. Flu can also make chronic health conditions—like asthma and heart disease—worse.

Treatment and comfort measures for a cold or the flu can also be very different. Both can be helped by drinking plenty of fluids and resting.


If you have questions or concerns about your symptoms now, see a Mercyhealth health care provider at Virtual Visit Now.

Mercyhealth Virtual Visit Now gives you remote access to the best of health care from your phone, tablet or computer. Our Virtual Visit Now team can help you feel better from the comfort of your own home. After assessing your symptoms, they’ll recommend treatments that can include simple comfort measures, prescription medicine or an office visit.

Virtual Visit Now is not available for emergency care. If you need emergency care, please call 911.

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