It is often difficult to tell the difference between a cold and flu by just looking at symptoms. Here you will find an easy chart that tries to break down the differences in symptoms between the two. It is important to look at the fever, is there one or not, as that can be one quick way of knowing the different between a cold and flu. Another thing to consider is how quickly the symptoms came on; sudden onset is usually flu.


Etiological Agent: Over 100 viral strains.

Symptom Onset: Gradual, 1-3 days.

Site of Infection: Upper Respiratory Tract, nose, mouth and throat.

Fever, Chills: Rare, low grade fever (less than 101F).

Headache: Frequent, usually mild.

General Aches, Pains: Mild, if any.

Runny, Stuffy Nose: Very common, accompanied by bouts of sneezing.

Sore Throat: Common, usually mild.

Cough, Chest Congestion: Mild-to-moderate, with hacking cough.

Fatigue, Weakness: If any, it would be mild

Extreme Exhaustion: Never.

Season: Year round, peaks in winter months.



Etiological Agent: 3 strains of influenza virus are A, B, and C.

Symptom Onset: withing a few hours.

Site of Infection: Entire respiratory system upper tract and the lungs.

Fever, Chills: Characteristicly higher grade fever, over 101F, lasting 2-4 days.

Headache: Characteristic and more severe.

General Aches, Pains: Characteristic and often severe affecting the entire body.

Runny, Stuffy Nose: Occasionally present.

Sore Throat: Occasionally present.

Cough, Chest Congestion: Common and may be severe.

Fatigue, Weakness: Common and it may be severe for 2-3 weeks.

Extreme Exhaustion: Frequent, especially in the early stages of the illness.

Season: Most cases between November and February.


As a Naturopathic doctor my treatment options for both colds and flus are to boost the body's own immune system so that it can fight off the infections. I will often use both topical and oral treatments, so that we help the body in a wide variety of ways.

Are you currently dealing with a cold or flu and need help, give me a call at (415) 912-9934!