Is It a Cold, the Flu, or COVID-19?

What Is The Difference Between The Common Cold And Flu?

The common cold and the flu differ in a few ways. For one, the common cold is a relatively harmless condition, whereas the flu is much more serious, especially for people with compromised immune systems. 

What Are The Symptoms?

Cold symptoms are a stuffy, runny nose, and sneezing. Sometimes there can also be coughing, watery eyes, and a sore throat. Colds come on gradually and spread easily between people.

The flu will come on suddenly with fever, chills, a headache, dry cough, sore throat, and muscle aches. You’ll also feel tired and miserable. Both the common cold and the flu can bring on a stuffy, runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes. In small children nausea and vomiting is also considered a flu symptom.


Unfortunately, all these symptoms are also symptoms of the dreaded COVID-19 virus, and there really is no way to know whether or not you have a cold, the flu, or COVID-19 without a test, either a flu test or a COVID-19 test. Thankfully testing for COVID-19 is available in most areas free of charge. The most important thing is to avoid contact with other people until you know for sure that what you have is not COVID-19.

When Should You See a Doctor?

It can be difficult to know exactly what germ causes an illness at home, and although the doctor can do tests to find out what causes your illness, symptoms can often successfully be treated at home. If you have asthma or you are immunocompromised you should call your doctor if you think you may have the flu or COVID-19.

If a person in your household is sick and has any of the following symptoms, you should also call the doctor right away: 

  • Symptoms lasting more than 10 days
  • Trouble breathing
  • High fever
  • Confusion
  • Bad headache
  • Sore throat
  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • Trouble staying awake
  • Severe stomach ache
  • Bluish face or lips 

What Can You Do to Cure the Common Cold?

1. Drink enough fluids

Vitamin C

It is very important to stay hydrated when you are sick. Taking in enough fluids helps with congestion and stuffiness, and also keeps you from becoming dehydrated. You can drink clear broth, warm water with lemon and honey, or tea. Alcohol, coffee, or sodas are not recommended.

2. Soothing a sore throat

Ice chips, lozenges, or sore throat sprays can help soothe a sore throat. A saltwater gargle (¼ teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water) can also help your scratchy throat feel better.

 3. Rest to help your body heal

You won’t get better from a sickness unless you rest, so even though it may seem counter productive, laying straight out for a few days until symptoms recede is probably the best thing you can do to get better soon.

 4. Get enough vitamin C

Getting enough vitamin C boosts your immune system as well as having a healing effect on upper respiratory tract infections. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, limes, or grapefruits. Leafy greens are another good source of vitamin C. Elderberries are also chock full of this vitamin and a known immune booster. If you don’t have a cluster of elderberries handy, you can use an extract such as this Elderberry Immune Fruit Extract

 5. Honey

Honey can help soothing coughing or a scratchy throat. You can suck on a spoonful or stir some honey into a cup of warm water.

 6. Use a humidifier

Dry inside air is not great when you’re sick, flu viruses spread easier and it can make your airways more inflamed, making it even more difficult to breathe. Unfortunately dry air is often a consequence of heating the house, but a humidifier will likely help your symptoms.

 7. Boost your immune system

Taking a supplement that will boost your immune system is also not a bad idea. Look for one that will reduce cold and flu symptoms and shorten the duration of any sickness, such as the The Black Elderberry Daily Immune Multivitamin from HealthImpaq.

Vitamin B12 is another great weapon in your arsenal against cold and flu season. It comes in a liquid form, making it a breeze to take and also has vitamin B2, B3, B5, and B6.

 vitamin b12

Q&A about Cold and Flu Symptoms

  • I have a cough, cold, and fever. Am I coronavirus infected?

While both a fever and cough can be symptoms of COVID-19, the only way to know for sure is to get a COVID-19 test.

  • Why do I have trouble breathing when coughing?

If you have trouble breathing when coughing you should see a doctor to rule out conditions such as asthma, COPD, or COVID-19.

  • Can you get the flu from the flu shot?

The flu shot does not actually give you the flu, although some people experience short term discomfort and flu-like symptoms after receiving the vaccine.

  • Can flu shots prevent colds?

The flu shot unfortunately doesn’t protect against the common cold.

Wrapping Up

While there’s no sure-fire way to stay healthy during the cold or flu season, handwashing and proper hygiene helps a lot. Knowing how to treat symptoms and when to call the doctor is also essential. Stay healthy!

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