What is the difference between a cold and the flu?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 20,828
    Ronald Turner, MD of the University of Virginia explains the difference between a cold and the flu.

    Dr. Ronald Turner

    Ronald Turner, MD, is Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Dean for Clinical Research at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Dr. Turner earned his MD degree from Southern Illinois University and did his training in Pediatrics and Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Columbus Children’s Hospital (Ohio State University) and the University of Virginia. He subsequently served in faculty positions at the University of Utah and the Medical University of South Carolina. In addition to his administrative role at the University of Virginia, Dr. Turner has clinical care and teaching responsibilities in General Pediatrics and Pediatric Infectious Diseases. His research interests are directed at the pathogenesis and treatment of viral respiratory infections.

    Host: What is the difference between a cold and a flu?

    Ronald Turner: Well, colds are mild illnesses. They generally are associated with sore throat, stuffy nose, runny nose, maybe some cough and sneezing but they are typically, not associated with systemic findings, muscle aches or fever, that sort of thing. In contrast, a flu is a very rapid on set illness that is associated with pain, it's associated with sore throat and with cough, tends to have much less nasal symptoms in terms of runny nose and nasal stuffiness and usually, it is associated with significant systemic symptoms, muscles ache and that sort of thing.