Common Cold, Flu Look Alike: How to Tell the Difference

WISCONSIN RAPIDS – The common cold and the flu can often look alike; so how can you tell the difference?

“Having a stuffy nose, sneezing and a sore throat are more indicative of a cold,” said Dr. Abigail Lewis, family medicine physician with Aspirus Doctors Clinic in Wisconsin Rapids. “Symptoms like fever, body aches, weakness and extreme exhaustion are rarely signs of a cold but are common indicators of the flu.”

Getting vaccinated against the flu can help cut down on missed work and school, doctor’s visits, hospitalizations and even flu-related deaths. “Most flu cases happen between late December and early March,” Lewis said. “While it’s best to get vaccinated before flu season, getting the vaccine now can still help protect you and your loved ones this flu season. Everyone six months and older needs a flu vaccine every year.”

Though anyone can get the flu, more serious complications usually affect young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic medical conditions, and anyone aged 65 and older.

The flu is more dangerous to children than the common cold. Every year, millions of kids get sick with the flu; thousands are hospitalized from it, and some even die from the flu.

“Children younger than five years old and those with long-term health problems like asthma and diabetes are at high risk of flu-related complications,” Lewis said. “Those include pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections.”

Lewis shared the following advice for stopping the spread of cold and flu:

• Wash your hands with soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.
• Use hand sanitizer if washing your hands isn’t an option.
• Wipe down or sanitize objects that are frequently touched like doorknobs, remotes, phones and tablets.
• Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Don’t reuse tissues; throw them away immediately after first use.
• If possible, avoid or limit contact with people who have a cold or the flu.
• Stay home if you feel sick to avoid giving your illness to others. You’ll also likely get better faster with rest.

Aspirus is available to help. Call for an appointment at one of the area Aspirus clinics listed below or stop by Aspirus Doctors Clinic Walk-In, located at 2031 Peach Street in Wisconsin Rapids. Walk-In hours are Monday-Friday from 7 am to 7 pm and weekends and holidays from 8 am to 1 pm.

You can also get help virtually. Aspirus Video Visits instantly connect you to dedicated providers with no appointment needed. Whether you’re at home, school, work or traveling, you can get an expert live recommendation from your smartphone, tablet or computer on minor illnesses or conditions. To learn more, talk to your health care provider or visit the Aspirus website at

Area Aspirus Clinics:
Aspirus Doctors Clinic – 2031 Peach Street, Wisconsin Rapids, 715.423.0122
Aspirus Riverview Clinic – Wisconsin Rapids, 410 Dewey Street, 715.421.7474
Aspirus Riveview Clinic – Rome, 1160 Rome Center Drive, 715.325.8300
Aspirus Riverview Clinic – Nekoosa, 1015 Angelus Drive, 715.886.2100
Aspirus Riverview Clinic – Adams, 419 N. Oak Street, 608.339.5250

News Desk
Author: News Desk

This piece was posted by our news team! Contact us or submit stories at [email protected]