Do I Have the Flu or Just a Cold?

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I feel horrible!

Do I have the flu or is it just a common cold? This question is usually the first that comes to mind when you get that lousy-all-over-feeling that lets you know you've caught a winter season bug. Some of the symptoms of the flu (influenza) are very similar to those common to the common cold; however, there are some flu symptoms that are not. If you suspect you have the flu and not just a common cold, see your doctor within 48 hours if possible. He may be able to prescribe medications that will help lessen the severity of your symptoms. After 48 hours the available antiviral medications are much less effective. Here are 8 symptoms that are common to the flu. These tips may help you determine whether you have the flu and a proper course of action if you do.

1. Fever of 100.4 F (38C) or higher -- Fever is rare if you only have a cold, but a fever higher than 100.4 F for 3-4 days is common in up to 80 percent of flu cases.

2. Widespread muscle aches -- Muscle aches are not common with a cold, and if they do occur, are normally slight.

3. Very tired or exhausted feeling -- The degree of tiredness is usually much more pronounced with the flu than with a common cold.

4. Headaches are common with the flu but fairly uncommon with a cold.

5. Chills are common with the flu but are uncommon with a cold.