Suffering from cold and flu symptoms?

Get care today from Gateway Family & Urgent Care.

The common cold and the flu are respiratory illnesses that cause similar symptoms. Colds are generally mild and do not result in serious health problems, while flu can lead to serious and even life-threatening complications. The only way to truly know if you’re suffering from a cold or the flu is a rapid flu test, but we’ve outlined some basics about both conditions below.

Common Cold

There are over 200 viruses that can cause a cold, but “human rhinoviruses are responsible for more than one-half of cold-like illnesses”. Symptoms are typically mild, last from 7-10 days, and include:

  • Sore Throat
  • Runny or Stuffy Nose
  • Sneezing
  • Body Aches
  • Headache
  • Watery eyes

Cold infections spread through the air and close personal contact. To reduce your risk, wash your hands often, do not touch your face, and avoid people who are sick. Colds can be treated with over-the-counter medication, rest, and by drinking plenty of fluids.


The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that is caused by influenza viruses. It occurs seasonally (October through May), and is spread through droplets when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Flu symptoms can be mild to severe, and include:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills

Children and some adults may also experience vomiting and diarrhea.

Young children, adults 65+, pregnant women and people with certain chronic illnesses are all at a higher risk of developing serious complications. The best way to protect ourselves, and those more vulnerable, from the flu, is to get an annual flu shot.

If you do come down with the flu, Gateway providers can prescribe an antiviral medication proven to lessen the severity and duration of your illness. When taken promptly, antivirals reduce the time you are sick by 1-2 days and can also prevent serious complications, such as pneumonia.

Gateway Family and Urgent Care

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