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What is the difference between the common cold and influenza (the flu)?

Internist, WebMD Medical Expert
Chief Medical Editor, WebMD

Flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms and come on quickly. Flu symptoms often mimic cold symptoms with nasal congestion, cough, aches, and malaise. But a common cold rarely has symptoms of fever above 101 degrees. With flu symptoms, you will probably have a fever initially with the flu virus and you will feel miserable. Body and muscle aches are also more common with the flu.

Is it a cold or the flu?

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All About the Flu

How long you're contagious and other flu facts.

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