older woman on couch with cold and flu symptoms | flu treatment in Caldwell, IdahoEven though influenza and the common cold have similar symptoms, they can differ significantly in severity. The flu, for instance, tends to induce more serious symptoms—flu symptoms that can, in some cases, be life-threatening. While the common cold is comparably mild in its course and expected outcomes, both ailments can leave patients bedridden, contagious, and struggling to overcome intense physical discomfort.

Core Medicine of Idaho, a Caldwell urgent care, helps residents get the flu treatment they need and the compassionate care they deserve. Our experienced team of family practice providers could help you diagnose cold and flu-related symptoms, giving you the resources needed to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.

Making Sense of Common Colds and Flu

The common cold and the flu are both types of contagious respiratory illnesses. They spread easily from person to person and can cause coughing, fevers, and a wide range of full-body symptoms.

However, despite some shared characteristics, the common cold and flu have few other similarities. Influenza, for instance, is caused by a closely related group of viruses, which come in four different forms. These forms include:

  • Influenza A
  • Influenza B
  • Influenza C
  • Influenza D

Of these four types of flu, Influenza A and Influenza B are by far the most common. Both can cause seasonal epidemics of disease, sickening millions of people within an incredibly short span of time.

The cold, in contrast, can be caused by more than 200 different viruses. The rhinovirus is the most common culprit, though, responsible for anywhere between 10% and 40% of reported cases. Rhinovirus-related colds do not usually spread as fast as the flu, and they are far less likely to cause problems beyond temporary discomfort.

Common Cold and Flu Symptoms

Cold and flu infections are sometimes asymptomatic, meaning that a patient may be infected but feel perfectly healthy.

However, both illnesses can induce a wide range of potential symptoms—symptoms that can inform self-diagnosis and alert patients to the need for more intensive care than they could receive at home.

The Most Common Flu Symptoms

Influenza is typically spread from one person to another. If an infected person sneezes, coughs, or even talks, they could disperse droplets into the air around them. These droplets can linger on certain surfaces and could sicken others who come into contact with them.

After a person has been exposed to the flu, symptoms can appear suddenly and with little warning, often within several days of the initial exposure. The resulting disease can be mild or severe. 

Common symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Fatigue

Everybody experiences flu symptoms somewhat differently. Fever, for instance, is a common indicator of a flu or flu-like illness—but not everybody who is diagnosed with the flu has a fever.

Some people, especially older adults and younger children, are at increased risk for influenza-related complications.

The Most Common Cold Symptoms

Contrary to popular misconceptions, simply being exposed to cold weather does not cause a cold. Instead, most people catch the cold from another, already-infected person.

Colds are one of the most common reasons for missing school or work. Most people come down with a cold at least two or three times per year, with symptoms typically lasting several days to a week.

The most common cold-related symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Stuff or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Post-nasal drip

Some people may also have a fever, but high temperatures are less frequently reported with the cold than the flu.

Telling the Difference Between the Flu and a Cold

The cold and flu share so many common symptoms that it can be difficult to tell the two apart without laboratory testing. However, they vary somewhat in the intensity and presentation of certain symptoms.

You could differentiate between the cold and the flu by considering:


Flu season usually begins around October and lasts until May, whereas cold cases typically surge later in winter. However, either illness could occur at any time of the year.

Suddenness of Symptoms

Common cold-related symptoms usually appear slowly, leading patients to feel as if they are becoming increasingly sick. The flu, in contrast, tends to hit people suddenly, with symptoms like fever and fatigue appearing unexpectedly and with very little warning.

Presence of Fever or Chills

People with the flu are, on average, much more likely to experience fever or chills than those with a common cold. 

When to Consider a Caldwell Urgent Care for Cold or Flu Treatments

Most people with cold- or flu-like symptoms do not need emergency medical attention. Even if they feel unwell and cannot go to school or work, bedrest and over-the-counter medication are typically sufficient treatments.

However, even when recovery seems all but guaranteed, patients should never take respiratory symptoms lightly. It is worth remembering that, in the not-so-distant past, influenza caused a near-unprecedented global pandemic—a pandemic that, at the time, took the lives of more Americans than had been lost in the First World War. While many people now have a certain tolerance to flu pathogens, complications are always possible, and they can quickly spiral out of control.

You should always see an urgent care provider if:

  • You have difficulty breathing, especially when at rest and not engaging in any difficult activity.
  • You are experiencing severe chest pain.
  • Your face or lips have turned blue.
  • You have been sick for seven or more days.

None of the above symptoms should ever be ignored. They could signal the emergence of a serious complication or indicate the presence of another serious illness, like COVID-19.

Best Flu Treatment at Our Caldwell Urgent Care

If your cold- or flu-related symptoms are serious or long-lasting, Core Medicine of Idaho could help you reclaim your well-being. Our family medicine doctors in Caldwell can treat your flu symptoms and provide ways to prevent the flu in the future. Our experienced team of health care professionals could:

Diagnose Your Illness

While the flu and common cold may have many similarities, they are caused by different pathogens. In most cases, your treatment options will be dependent on your health care provider’s diagnosis.

Core Medicine of Idaho could help you diagnose an illness by:

  • Assessing your self-reported symptoms
  • Providing an in-person exam
  • Using clinical testing methods to confirm your diagnosis

Prescribe Fast-Acting, Low-Risk Medication

Your cold or flu treatment options may be dependent on how quickly you seek help. If your flu is detected and diagnosed early, we could prescribe fast-acting antiviral medication to mitigate your symptoms and expedite your recovery.

Even when antiviral medication is not an option, we may be able to help you relieve uncomfortable symptoms like pain and fever.

Explore Options for Preventative Care

Although you may have to wait for medication to take its course before getting better, Core Medicine of Idaho could help you preserve your health by discussing whether you could benefit from vaccination.