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,
fluseason 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.