Health Department

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our administration office at 10777 Main Street in Fairfax is open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday. Clinic services are not offered at this location.

703-246-2411
TTY 711

10777 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22030

Gloria Addo-Ayensu, M.D., M.P.H.,
Director of Health

Is It Flu or a Cold?

Cold vs Flu

Symptoms of the common cold and influenza (flu) are similar. However, one key symptom of flu is the presence of fever. Other differences are noted in the table below.

Symptom Influenza Common Cold
Fever Usual, sudden onset more than 100°F, lasts 3 - 4 days Rare
Sore throat Usual Usual
Cough Dry, sometimes severe Hacking
Headache Usual and can be severe Rare
Aches and pains Usual and can be severe Rare
Fatigue and weakness Usual and can last 2 - 3 weeks, moderate to severe Sometimes, but mild
Debilitating fatigue Usual, early onset can be severe Never
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea In children younger than 5 years old Rare
Watering of the eyes Rare Usual
Runny, stuffy nose Rare Usual
Sneezing Rare in early stages Usual
Chest discomfort Common, often severe Sometimes, but mild to moderate
Complications Respiratory failure, can worsen a current chronic condition, can be life threatening Congestion or earache
Fatalities Well recognized Not reported
Prevention Influenza vaccine; frequent hand washing; cover your cough Frequent hand washing; cover your cough
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