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Flu vs. Cold – How to Tell the Difference | McFarland Clinic

November 13, 2019


Many people get infections, especially of
their respiratory tract in the wintertime. There are many different viruses, especially
what we call the common cold virus. It’s very common, and that usually comes on with sniffles,
maybe some sore throat, maybe a low grade fever, but primarily that’s where it ends. Influenza
on the other hand, people feel sick. They have high fevers, often with muscle aches,
body aches, profound fatigue, and that can come on like a thunderclap very fast. And
then they can develop upper respiratory symptoms with that, including cough, sore throat, nasal
congestion. But it’s really the high fevers and that general sense of being really sick
that differentiates influenza from a common cold virus. We use the word flu interchangeably
in the community for a couple of different things. So influenza is often described as
the flu. People also use the term flu to describe a stomach flu, which is caused by a totally
different virus. Usually people get nausea or vomiting or diarrhea, and that is not influenza.
That’s a totally different type of virus.

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