A cold is sometimes mistaken for influenza because the symptoms are very similar. So that this doesn’t lead to misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment, you should be able to tell the differences. Both clinical pictures are based on infection with viruses that enter the body via the mucous membranes and breathing, but these are of different nature. Another important differentiating factor is the duration and severity of the illness.
Cold and flu – the difference
While the common cold is often over after a week, the influenza, i.e. the real flu, usually lasts two to three weeks. In the worst case, the disease can even be fatal. The symptoms show the following differences: The common cold is usually associated with a runny nose and only a slight sore throat and begins more slowly. The nose is blocked and runny. The flu, on the other hand, sets in suddenly and usually with a high fever and complete exhaustion. Headache is more of a symptom of the flu, as are severe pain in the limbs and a painful dry cough. Influenza and the common cold are both highly contagious.
Secondary infections in cold and influenza
The common cold is often accompanied by conditions such as sinus infections and ear pain. In contrast, influenza often results in severe secondary illnesses such as bronchitis or bacterial pneumonia. The bacteria that trigger these diseases usually have easy play with an immune system that is already under heavy strain from the flu viruses.