Is it a Cold or the Flu?

Symptoms Cold Flu
Fever Rare Characteristic, High (100-102 degrees) lasts 3-4 days
Headache Rare Prominent
General aches and pains Slight Usual and often severe
Fatigue/Weakness               Quite mild Can last up to 2-3 weeks
Extreme Exhaustion         Never Early and prominent
Stuffy nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore throat Common Sometimes
Chest discomfort/Cough Mild to moderate Common hacking cough and can become severe
Complications Sinus congestion, earache Bronchitis, pneumonia(can be life-threatening)
Prevention Good hand washing.  Keep your hands away from your face. No vaccine will work. Annual flu shot, Good hand washing
Treatment Relief of symptoms Relief of symptoms


If you have any questions please feel free to call Student Health Services at 330-972-7808

Influenza or flu is a viral infection, as is a cold.  But the flu causes a fever, headache, muscle aches and cough.  It usually doesn’t cause the runny nose or nasal congestion that comes with a cold.

Do you need an antibiotic?

There is no cure for a cold which is caused by a virus, and not bacteria.  Bacteria are complete organisms that can reproduce themselves.  Antibiotics work against bacteria because bacterial cells are different enough from human cells for the medicine to kill the bacteria without harming the human cells. Designing medicines that kill viruses without also harming the human cells they inhabit is difficult.  So no medicine exists yet that can cure the common cold.  In fact, antibiotics can result in allergic reactions, vaginal yeast infections, upset stomach, diarrhea and other side effects. Using antibiotics when there isn’t a bacterial infection contributes to the very serious problem of antibacterial resistance.

Luckily, your body’s immune system responds to whatever cold virus you have.  It usually clears the infection within 7-14 days.  And remember, the best way to avoid contacting influenza is to get your flu shot!

Should I see a healthcare provider?

Your cold may last 7-10 days but should gradually improve.  If you get stuck in one phase of a cold, where a symptom keeps getting worse instead of gradually improving, see your healthcare provider.