Skip to main content

Is it just a cold or the flu?

Understand your symptoms to make the call

You're coughing, your nose is running and you have a sore throat. It's obvious you're coming down with something, but what is it? Is it the flu or just the common cold?

Determine what’s making you feel "icky"

While cold and flu symptoms can be similar, it's important to know the difference so you can understand your treatment options. Use this chart from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) External Site the next time you have cold and flu symptoms.

Signs and symptoms Influenza Cold
Symptom onset Abrupt Gradual
Fever Common Rare
AchesCommonSlight
ChillsFairly commonUncommon
Fatigue, weaknessCommonSometimes
SneezingSometimesCommon
Stuffy noseSometimesCommon
Sore throatSometimesCommon
Chest discomfort, coughCommonMild to moderate
HeadacheCommonRare

Whether you have the cold or flu, now what do you do?

Here are some tried and true ways to recover from a cold or the flu.

  1. Get lots of rest

    Stay home from work and stay as isolated as possible. Cozy up with your favorite blanket, your family pet, a good show on Netflix and try to catch some ZZZs!

  2. See your doctor if things get worse

    Whether you've come down with the cold or flu, head to your personal doctor's office if your symptoms start to worsen. And, while you’re out — get some liquids and some hot, comforting chicken noodle soup.

  3. Once you feel better, get back to your normal routine

    Once your temperature is back to normal for at least 24 hours and you're feeling better, getting back to your normal routine can make you feel a little more like yourself. Just be sure that your fever is gone naturally. Don’t rely on over-the-counter medicines to lower it, unless recommended by your personal doctor.

Don't forget to get your flu shot

The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older get the flu vaccine every year. Most preventive vaccines are covered at 100 percent by your Wellmark health insurance plan. Just be sure to check your benefits before getting a vaccine by logging in to myWellmark®, and use an in-network provider.

Check out our "Get a clue about the flu" series

Need more information about colds and flu, as well as how to avoid them? Take a look at these articles: