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Cold vs. Flu

A person with a runny nose.

Written by Nancy Ung
Illustrated by Ida Liu

Now that the temperature is dropping, you may have noticed an upsurge in these 3 letters – no, not PSL. I’m referring to the FLU! Have you ever gotten a flu shot, but still end up getting sick? What’s the difference between getting the flu and catching a cold? The flu and the common cold are both respiratory infections caused by viruses. However, a key difference between the two are the types of viruses involved: while colds are caused by more than 100 different strains (rhinovirus being the most common), only influenza virus types A, B, and C cause the flu. The flu will usually result in more intense symptoms and could lead to further serious health complications such as pneumonia or bacterial infections. The flu is more commonly associated with fever, aches, chills, and yellow to brown sputum.

It is important to note that these two illnesses are similar in that they are both preventable – whether it is through proper hand washing, sneezing/coughing into your arm or sleeve, or those yearly vaccinations.