Cold vs. flu symptoms: understand the difference


  • Symptoms build over 48 hours

  • Runny nose + watery eyes

  • Stuffy nose + congestion

  • Sneezing + coughing

  • Symptoms may last 3-10 days


  • Fast onset symptoms (especially fever and chills)

  • Fever + chills

  • Body aches + pains

  • Weakness + fatigue

  • Symptoms may last 7-14 days and may linger up to 3 weeks


Both colds and flu are considered upper respiratory infections of the nose, sinuses, and throat.

Symptoms can be similar, so keep an eye on what's bothering you most.

How to treat the flu or a common cold

Both colds and the flu require lots of rest, fluids and time to run their course, but there are some extra things you can do at home to help relieve symptoms, including the following. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions.

Bye, bye dry

Bye, bye dry

Use a humidifier to keep the air moist and ease throat and nose discomfort.

A soothing sip

A soothing sip

Warm liquids like tea and chicken soup can help a sore, scratchy throat.

Keep it clean

Keep it clean

Wash your hands to avoid spreading infection.

Dose up

Take medicine to relieve symptoms

Take an over-the-counter medicine such as TYLENOL® Cold + Flu Severe or TYLENOL® Cold + Flu + Cough Nighttime for temporary relief. Use these products only as directed.

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