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The common cold and the flu are two of the most common illnesses that affect people of all ages, and they share many characteristics. But while the symptoms of these diseases are quite similar, it can be vital to know how to tell them apart.
The common cold is caused by a wide variety of viruses. There is no way to treat a viral infection once the host has been infected. Because of this, the actual illness cannot be treated. However, people do tend to build immunity to the common cold each time they contract it, which accounts for the fact that the cold is more prevalent amongst younger people. The usual symptoms of the common cold are a fever of around 100 F, congestion in the sinuses and a sore throat. Generally speaking, the common cold is not a serious illness unless the sick person has an immune deficiency. The symptoms can be easily treated with different medicines such as decongestants to relieve congestion and antipyretics to reduce fever.
The flu is caused by the influenza virus and is potentially much more serious than the common cold. The gravity of any particular infection depends of what strain of influenza one has. While the cold and flu share many symptoms, the symptoms of the flu are more severe. The fever that comes with the flu is higher, anywhere up to 104 F, and the congestion can be much greater. In addition, body aches are a common symptom of the flu.