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What is the difference between a cold and the flu?

Flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. These two types of illnesses have similar symptoms and it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough are more common and intense with the flu.

Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Unlike the flu, colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalizations. Because of these shared symptoms, it can be difficult - or even impossible - to tell the difference between a cold and the flu. Special tests must be done within the first few days of illness to confirm if a person has the flu. 

<< Protect Yourself from the Flu

Got the flu?

We can help. Visit one of our Immediate Care Centers for fast, quality care.


Immediate Care Center - Eastside

1200 E. Main St., Suite 12
Spartanburg, SC 29307
864-560-9260

Hours: Mon-Fri 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. / Sat-Sun 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Immediate Care Center – Pelham

3611 Pelham Road
Greenville, SC 29615
864-530-3500

Hours: Mon-Fri 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. / Sat-Sun 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Immediate Care Center - Westside

151 Peachwood Centre Drive
Spartanburg, SC 29301
864-560-9627

Hours: Mon-Fri 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. / Sat-Sun 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.