You’ve got an itchy, scratchy feeling in the back of your throat and feel a fever coming on. So how can you tell if you have a cold, flu, or something like strep throat?
Cold and Flu Symptoms
It’s easy to confuse a cold for flu – or flu for a cold – because they both have very similar symptoms:
- Body and muscle aches
- Feeling tired
- Itchy or sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
Cold symptoms usually appear a few days after you catch a cold-causing virus and may also include sneezing and watery eyes.
Flu symptoms, however, come on suddenly and may also include:
- Chills and sweats
- Persistent cough
Treating Cold and Flu
Although there is no cure for the common cold, some over-the-counter medications can help relieve your symptoms:
- Cough syrups
- Decongestant nasal sprays
- Pain relievers (Tylenol®)
Unlike a cold, you can take a proactive approach to the flu by getting an annual flu shot. If you do have the flu, you can use an over-the-counter pain reliever or may be prescribed an antiviral medication.
For both cold and flu, getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids, and keeping your room at a warm but comfortable temperature will also help you feel better.
Cold and flu-like symptoms may also be signs of other illnesses, like strep throat.
Strep throat is caused by bacteria and is highly contagious. In addition to cold and flu symptoms, strep throat may include:
- Difficulty and painful swallowing
- Red and swollen tonsils
- Sensitive lymph nodes in your neck