Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Cold & Flu Quiz: Can You Tell the Difference?

 1 of 
Current Score:  
woman blowing nose

You woke up with a sore throat and a runny nose. You probably have:

woman blowing nose

You woke up with a sore throat and a runny nose. You probably have:

  • Your Answer: 
  • Correct Answer: 

Explanation: Still, it could be the flu. Colds and flu share a few symptoms. Both are caused by viruses that invade the upper airways. But colds have milder symptoms. Fever, body aches, dry cough, and being very tired are more likely to be the flu.

woman blowing nose

Cold symptoms tend to come on gradually, but the flu comes on suddenly.

woman blowing nose

Cold symptoms tend to come on gradually, but the flu comes on suddenly.

  • Your Answer: 
  • Correct Answer: 

Explanation: You'll often feel a cold coming on over a few days, but flu symptoms seem to come on quickly, over a period of three to six hours.

woman blowing nose

Being exhausted is a sign of:

woman blowing nose

Being exhausted is a sign of:

  • Your Answer: 
  • Correct Answer: 

Explanation: If you feel like you can't get out of bed, don't. Serious fatigue, along with chills, and body aches, are signs that you have the flu -- so you need plenty of bed rest. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) can help with body aches.

woman blowing nose

You can catch the flu from someone before they look sick.

woman blowing nose

You can catch the flu from someone before they look sick.

  • Your Answer: 
  • Correct Answer: 

Explanation: People can spread the flu a day before they start to feel sick and up to seven days after they do. So they can pass the virus on before they know they have it. People with colds are most contagious two to four days after symptoms show up. But a cold can be contagious for as long as two weeks. That's a good reason to wash your hands often during cold and flu season, not just when you're around someone who seems to be sick.

woman blowing nose

You should stay home from work if you have a cold.

woman blowing nose

You should stay home from work if you have a cold.

  • Your Answer: 
  • Correct Answer: 

Explanation: It really depends on how you feel. If you can't focus on your work duties, if you're coughing a lot, or if you just feel bad, stay home until you feel better. Since you may be contagious, your co-workers may actually thank you for it. If you do go to work, cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and wash your hands often. If you have the flu? Stay home. You probably won't feel like going in, and you definitely don't want to spread it!

woman blowing nose

Drinking fluids helps the flu, but not a cold.

woman blowing nose

Drinking fluids helps the flu, but not a cold.

  • Your Answer: 
  • Correct Answer: 

Explanation: With a cold or the flu, fluids help break up congestion and thin mucus. So drink plenty of liquids like water, herbal tea, ginger ale, and soup. Sports drinks or broth can also help you stay hydrated.

woman blowing nose

You can go to work as soon as your fever goes away.

woman blowing nose

You can go to work as soon as your fever goes away.

  • Your Answer: 
  • Correct Answer: 

Explanation: Wait at least 24 hours after your fever goes away naturally -- without using any medicines to bring it down -- before you go back to work. You should also avoid travel, social events, movies, and other public gatherings for a good 24 hours after your temperature is normal.

woman blowing nose

Chicken soup may help fight a cold.

woman blowing nose

Chicken soup may help fight a cold.

  • Your Answer: 
  • Correct Answer: 

Explanation: There's a reason why this home remedy has been making the rounds for hundreds of years. We know that chicken soup is good for you and keeps your fluids up. Studies show that it may also help fight infection and keep germs from entering the body through the nose. Chicken soup also seems to thin mucus better than other warm liquids.

woman blowing nose

When are you most likely to get the flu?

woman blowing nose

When are you most likely to get the flu?

  • Your Answer: 
  • Correct Answer: 

Explanation: Winter is flu season, but flu outbreaks can happen anytime between October and April. Over the past 35 years, most people have come down with the flu in February. The best time to get a flu vaccine is in the fall, before flu season starts, so your body has time to build up immunity. Better late than never, though. Getting a flu vaccine anytime during flu season offers some protection.

woman blowing nose

Which can soothe a sore throat?

woman blowing nose

Which can soothe a sore throat?

  • Your Answer: 
  • Correct Answer: 

Explanation: Sucking on ice chips or a frozen ice pop actually does double duty for a cold and sore throat: It numbs your throat and gets fluid into your body. Gargling with a mixture of 1 cup of warm water and 1 teaspoon of salt can also ease a sore throat. Spit the liquid out after each gargle.

woman blowing nose

The average cold lasts:

woman blowing nose

The average cold lasts:

  • Your Answer: 
  • Correct Answer: 

Explanation: It may seem like forever when you have one, but colds actually last anywhere from two days to two weeks. Most last about a week. See a doctor if you've been sick more than seven days or have:

  • A high fever
  • Severe sinus pain
  • Swollen glands
  • A cough that produces mucus
  • Shortness of breath
woman blowing nose

If you have a bad cold, you should take antibiotics.

woman blowing nose

If you have a bad cold, you should take antibiotics.

  • Your Answer: 
  • Correct Answer: 

Explanation: Antibiotics won't help a cold, no matter how bad you feel. That's because antibiotics treat bacterial infections, but viruses cause colds. If your cold brings on a bacterial infection such as an ear or sinus infection, your doctor may give you antibiotics. If it's plain old sniffles or a sore throat, try over-the-counter medicine to help you feel better while your cold runs its course.

Your Score:   – You correctly answered  out of  questions.
Your Score:   – You correctly answered  out of  questions.
woman blowing nose

Results: Congratulations! What you know about colds and flu is nothing to sneeze at.

Results: Not bad! You coughed up quite a few correct answers.

Results: You have a lot to learn about colds and flu. Study up and take the quiz again.

All About the Flu

How long you're contagious and other flu facts.

View More

WebMD Answers to Top Cold and Flu Questions

  • Can I do anything to make my cold go away faster?

    While there's no cure for a cold, there are definitely things you can do to help your body beat a cold virus faster...More

  • What causes a common cold?

    The rhinovirus (or other cold virus) enters your body through your nose or mouth and is easily spread...More

  • Can a cold develop into flu?

    The cold and the flu are caused by different viruses. So a cold can't turn into the flu, but...More

close

From Our Sponsor

Content under this heading is from or created on behalf of the named sponsor. This content is not subject to the WebMD Editorial Policy and is not reviewed by the WebMD Editorial department for accuracy, objectivity or balance.