Know the difference between the flu, the common cold, and seasonal allergies

The symptoms may seem similar but you can tell them apart. Here's a quick list of symptoms to give you a better idea of the differences.*

Fever

Fever

Cold

Rare

Flu

Usual, high (100-102°F), sometimes higher, especially in young children; lasts 3-4 days

Airborne Allergy

Never

Headache

Headache

Cold

Uncommon

Flu

Common

Airborne Allergy

Uncommon

General Aches, Pains

General Aches, Pains

Cold

Slight

Flu

Usual; often severe

Airborne Allergy

Never

Fatigue, Weakness

Fatigue, Weakness

Cold

Sometimes

Flu

Usual; can last up to 3 weeks

Airborne Allergy

Sometimes

Extreme Exhaustion

Extreme Exhaustion

Cold

Never

Flu

Usual, at beginning of the illness

Airborne Allergy

Never

Stuffy, Runny Nose

Stuffy, Runny Nose

Cold

Common

Flu

Sometimes

Airborne Allergy

Common

Sneezing

Sneezing

Cold

Usual

Flu

Sometimes

Airborne Allergy

Usual

Sore Throat

Sore Throat

Cold

Common

Flu

Sometimes

Airborne Allergy

Sometimes

Cough

Cough

Cold

Common

Flu

Common, can become severe

Airborne Allergy

Sometimes

Chest Discomfort

Chest Discomfort

Cold

Mild to moderate

Flu

Common

Airborne Allergy

Rare, except for those with allergic asthma

*Adapted from "Is It a Cold or the Flu?", National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Institute of Health, October 2014.

This table is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for the advice of your healthcare provider. If you have any of the flu symptoms shown here, stay home and call your doctor.