Influenza or the flu is often confused with the common cold, mostly because some symptoms are shared between the two. It is important, however, to know the difference between the common cold and the flu. The common cold can be irritating and temporarily debilitating but is rarely serious unless one has a compromised immune system. Influenza, on the other hand, can become serious if it does not pass in a few days. Symptoms of the common flu tend to come on quickly after exposure to the influenza virus, within two to four days. There are two types of flu: type A and type B. Influenza A will be moderate to severe, while influenza B is a much milder version of the flu.
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Symptoms of a cold are mild compared to symptoms of the flu. A cold is a mild respiratory illness that tends to last for a few days, while the flu can last for weeks if not treated. A cold will not send you to the hospital or give you pneumonia, but influenza can. Typical influenza symptoms include the onset of fever, aching muscles, sore throat, and a non-productive cough with little to no phlegm. Some people who contract the flu also have a runny nose, burning or pain in the eyes, sensitivity to light, and chest pain.
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