Skip directly to site contentSkip directly to page optionsSkip directly to A-Z link

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC twenty four seven. Saving Lives, Protecting People

Influenza (Flu)

Español | Other Languages

exclamation square light iconIs it Flu or COVID-19?

 

Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, making it hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Diagnostic testing can help determine if you are sick with the flu or COVID-19.

 

What is the difference between a cold and flu?

Flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more intense. Colds are usually milder than flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can have very serious associated complications.

 

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

Cold or Flu?

Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can tell if a person has the flu.

 

What are the symptoms of the flu versus the symptoms of a cold?

The symptoms of flu can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness). Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems.

 

Page last reviewed: August 31, 2020

home

Seasonal Influenza (Flu)

About Flu

plus icon

Who is at High Risk for Flu Complications

plus icon

This Flu Season

plus icon

Prevent Flu

plus icon

Flu Vaccines Work

plus icon

Symptoms & Diagnosis

plus icon

Flu Symptoms & Complications

plus icon

The Difference Between Cold and Flu

The Difference between Flu and COVID-19

Diagnosis

Treatment

plus icon

Schools, Businesses & Travelers

plus icon

Flu Activity & Surveillance

plus icon

Health Professionals

plus icon

Flu News & Spotlights

plus icon

What’s New

What CDC Does

FluVaxView

Communications Resource Center

International Work

Outbreak Investigations

email_03Get Email Updates

To receive weekly email updates about Seasonal Flu, enter your email address:

 

Email Address

Email Address

What’s this?

sleeve up to fight flu

Influenza Types

Seasonal

Pandemic

Avian

Swine

Influenza in Animals

HAVE QUESTIONS?

Visit CDC-INFO

Call 800-232-4636

Email CDC-INFO

Open 24/7

CDC INFORMATION

About CDC

Jobs

Funding

Policies

File Viewers & Players

Privacy

FOIA

No Fear Act

OIG

Nondiscrimination

Accessibility

CONNECT WITH CDC

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

LinkedIn

Snapchat

 Youtube

Syndicate

CDC TV

RSS

Email

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

USA.gov

CDC Website Exit Disclaimer external icon

Facebook

Twitter

LinkedIn