How to Tell If You Have the Flu, or Just a Cold

How to Tell If You Have the Flu, or Just a Cold

It’s that time of year again. Everyone in the office is coughing, and there’s not enough hand sanitizer in the zip code to make me feel safe from all the germs floating around. I don’t want to come down with a cold, or the flu, if I’m being honest, but the flu is definitely the one to avoid. 

Do you know how to tell the difference between the two?

Buzzfeed recently had a great explainer that will help you determine which is which.

Contrary to popular belief, cold weather does not make you sick — but respiratory viruses (namely, influenza) do tend to peak during the fall and winter. In the US, flu season typically lasts from October to March. However, a nasty case of sniffles and aches during the winter doesn’t always mean you have the flu. Often, it’s just a cold, which you can get any time of the year.

The common cold and flu are both contagious respiratory illnesses that can make you feel miserable, but they are caused by different viruses. Some flu symptoms may mimic a cold, but the flu tends to be much more serious and deadly — so it’s important to know the difference between these two illnesses. Obviously, only a doctor can diagnose you, but knowing how to recognize symptoms is always helpful.

So how can you tell if your symptoms mean you have a cold or the flu, and what is the best treatment? We spoke to Dr. Tania Elliott, an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, to find out.

For more tips to tell the difference, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website where they break down the above chart in much more detail. 

How to protect your office or school

Contact Office Essentials today for our free 5 Tips To Beat the Flu Poster!
Print and display the 8.5×11 poster in common areas of your office to encourage your employees to adopt healthy habits — and stop the spread of sickness — this flu season. Click here to get the poster.
Greg Bussmann
About Greg Bussmann 277 Articles
Greg Bussmann is a Marketing Specialist at Office Essentials. He is a lifelong, proud St. Louisan, a technology enthusiast, and father to four teenage daughters. He spends his spare time providing rides, chaperoning dates and trying to keep track of his credit cards. He also enjoys watching the St. Louis Cardinals when it's his turn to use the remote. Email Greg anytime.