Cold: The common cold is usually caused by rhinoviruses, but other viruses like coronaviruses and adenoviruses can also be responsible.
Flu: Influenza, or the flu, is caused by influenza viruses (usually influenza A or B viruses).
Onset and Duration:
Cold: Symptoms of a cold typically develop gradually and are milder compared to the flu. Cold symptoms usually last for about 7-10 days.
Flu: The onset of the flu is usually sudden and severe. Flu symptoms can last for about 1-2 weeks.
Cold: Common symptoms of a cold include a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, and a mild cough. Fever is rare in adults but more common in children.
Flu: Symptoms of the flu often include a high fever (usually over 100.4°F or 38°C), severe body aches, headache, fatigue, chills, and a dry cough.
Cold: Colds rarely lead to serious complications. They can, however, exacerbate underlying conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Flu: The flu can lead to more serious complications, especially in high-risk groups like the elderly, very young, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions. Complications can include pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, and worsening of chronic conditions.
Cold: Colds are primarily spread through droplets from coughs and sneezes or by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the face.
Flu: The flu is also spread through respiratory droplets and contact with contaminated surfaces.
Cold: There is no vaccine for the common cold.
Flu: Vaccines are available to prevent the flu. Annual flu vaccination is recommended, especially for those at higher risk of complications.