Is it a Cold or the Flu

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Lee Health
Published at : 05 Jan 2021
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Coughing, congestion, and sore throat—you know you don’t feel well, but how do you know if you’re battling the flu or the common cold? “We do see plenty of both and a lot of times the symptoms kind of overlap. So it’s very easy to confuse,” said Dr. Robert Castro, an infectious disease physician with Lee Health.

While the symptoms are similar, the flu is typically more severe. With the flu compared to the cold, it’s more common to have more abrupt symptoms, as well as higher fevers, also headaches, chills, and body aches, which is less common with people who have a cold. Usually a cold is more localized to the head and neck area,” explained Dr. Castro.

Doctors say a cold and the flu can be contracted in the same way and last about the same amount of time, but if the symptoms last longer than two weeks patients need to seek medical care. “The flu tends to have more complications than a cold. One of the more common complications we get concerned about is pneumonia,” he said.

If the symptoms are localized to the upper respiratory area, but the patient isn’t running a fever or having body aches, it’s most likely a common cold. “There’s no specific antiviral for a cold, so we usually recommend if needed some over the counter medications for congestion sore throat anything like that,” said Dr. Castro.

But if a patient has the flu, doctors can prescribe an antiviral medication. Regardless of what’s causing you to be sick if you don’t feel well make sure to get plenty of rest and see your doctor if the symptoms get worse.


View More Health Matters video segments at LeeHealth.org/Healthmatters/

Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.

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