Two main differences between the common cold and the flu – symptoms explained

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There are more than 200 different viruses that can cause colds, according to the Mayo Clinic. The site says adults catch two to three colds a year, while young children come down with a cold four or more times a year. It can be hard to tell whether you have a cold or flu, since many of the symptoms are the same.

Rhinoviruses cause up to 50 percent of common colds. There are more than 100 different rhinoviruses. But other types of viruses can also cause cold symptoms.

The Mayo Clinic states that within one to three days of picking up a cold virus, you’ll get symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose, a cough and a sore throat.

You may also get a headache, nasal congestion, or a fever; though a fever is most common in children.

Different viruses cause cold and flu, and though they share many symptoms, there are signs which can allow you to spot the difference.

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The Mayo Clinic says that the main difference between cold and flu is that you are more likely to have a fever and chills with flu.

“Adults don’t usually get a fever with a common cold, although kids sometimes do,” the site adds.

The flu can also cause body aches and more severe symptoms than a cold.

If you have the flu, you are also likely to experience shivering, a headache, and dizziness.

There are also differences between the way colds and the flu appear.

According to the NHS, colds tend to appear gradually, while the flu appears quickly within a few hours.

A common cold tends to make you feel unwell but you’re okay to carry on as normal. Flu can make you feel exhausted and too unwell to carry on as normal.

Flu is caused by a different group of viruses to a common cold, and symptoms of flu tend to be more severe and last longer.

Colds are caused by viruses and easily spread to other people. You’re infectious until all your symptoms have gone.

If you are concerned about yourself, a relative or friend, call NHS 111 for medical advice, this free service is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Over-the-counter medications to treat cold symptoms are widely available, and a flu vaccine is also available to many people in the UK.

Indeed, the NHS says you can often treat a cold without seeing a GP, and you should begin to feel better in about one to two weeks. Sometimes symptoms last longer in children.

To help recover from a common cold, you should rest and sleep, keep warm, and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Your local pharmacist can recommend the best medication for your symptoms, such as lozenges for sore throats, decongestants, steam inhalations and cough syrups.

If you have a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, it could be COVID-19.

You can get free coronavirus tests, and you should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result, though you can leave your home to have a test.

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