How can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?

According to the CDC, colds and flu share many symptoms and it’s not always easy to distinguish between them based on symptoms alone. Cold symptoms tend to come on more gradually and be milder than the flu. Colds also almost always include a stuffy or runny nose, which are less common with the flu. If you think you may have the flu, be sure to visit a healthcare professional. He or she may be able to use a rapid test to confirm the diagnosis.

Signs and Symptoms Cold Flu
Symptom Onset Gradual Abrupt
Fever Rare Usual
Aches Slight Usual
Chill Uncommon Fairly Common
Fatigue, Weakness Sometimes Usual
Sneezing Common Sometimes
Chest (Discomfort, Cough) Mild to Moderate Common
Stuffy Nose Common Sometimes
Headache Rare Common

How to treat cold symptoms

If you are experiencing sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, you might have a cold. Colds are one of the most common reasons for missed school or work. On average, adults get two to three colds each year, and children often get even more. Unlike the flu, which usually comes on suddenly, the symptoms of a cold usually peak within a few days and can include: sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, coughing, post-nasal drip or watery eyes. Some cold symptoms—especially a runny or stuffy nose and cough—can last for up to 10 to 14 days.

While there is no cure for a cold (it will eventually go away on its own), there are ways to feel better while you wait, such as getting more rest, drinking extra fluids and using a humidifier or vaporizer in the room where you sleep. Although many over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are marketed to treat cold symptoms, most of the leading products date back before the 1970s when there was no rigorous FDA requirement for scientific evidence. The science was not available to accurately measure the benefit (or harm) of these ingredients. Since most of these remedies cause a numbing and cooling sensation, consumers primarily benefit from a placebo effect.

Although antibiotics may seem like they’ll help you get better faster, antibiotics do not work against the viruses that cause colds and will not help you get better if you have a cold. Not only that, but their side effects—which can range from a minor rash to a serious antibiotic-resistant infection—could actually cause more harm.

Biovanta is forging a new path in the treatment of cold symptoms, by working on the upper respiratory inflammation where colds start. It was developed using leading edge science, which enabled researchers to replicate human respiratory cells in a lab. While Biovanta won’t cure your cold, it can help reduce inflammation, relieving your sore throat and helping your body fight off a cold so that you might feel better faster.