Difference Between
versus

Cold vs. Flu: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
The common cold typically causes mild symptoms like runny nose and sore throat, while the flu causes severe symptoms like high fever and body aches.
Cold vs. Flu

Key Differences

The common cold, a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, is generally milder than the flu. It often manifests as a runny nose, sneezing, and a sore throat. In contrast, the flu, caused by the influenza virus, tends to present more severe symptoms such as high fever, muscle aches, and fatigue. Both affect the respiratory system but differ in intensity and potential complications.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023
Duration is a key differentiator between the cold and the flu. Colds typically resolve within a week or so, with symptoms peaking around the third or fourth day. On the other hand, flu symptoms can last longer and may lead to more serious health issues, including pneumonia. While both can be uncomfortable, the flu’s impact on one's daily life is usually more significant.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023
Treatment approaches for colds and the flu also differ. Over-the-counter medications and rest are often sufficient for managing cold symptoms. However, the flu might require antiviral drugs if diagnosed early. Both conditions benefit from hydration and rest, but the flu might necessitate more intensive medical care, especially in high-risk individuals.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023
Preventative measures for the cold and flu include frequent hand washing and avoiding close contact with infected individuals. However, the flu has an added layer of prevention in the form of annual vaccines, which are recommended due to the potential severity of the illness. Both can be contagious, but flu tends to have a higher rate of transmission and severity.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023
The onset of symptoms is another distinguishable factor. Cold symptoms typically develop gradually, over a few days. Flu symptoms, conversely, often appear abruptly and intensely. This sudden onset can quickly lead to severe health deterioration, unlike the more gradual progression of a common cold.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Symptom Severity

Mild (e.g., sneezing, runny nose)
Severe (e.g., high fever, body aches)
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Duration

Short (about 7-10 days)
Longer (1-2 weeks or more)
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Onset

Gradual
Sudden
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Complications

Rare
More common (e.g., pneumonia)
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Prevention

General hygiene
Annual vaccines, hygiene
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023
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Cold and Flu Definitions

Cold

A common viral infection affecting nose and throat;
I caught a cold and can't stop sneezing.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Flu

A metaphor for a rapid spread of something;
Panic spread through the crowd like the flu.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Cold

Lacking affection or warmth;
His cold demeanor made it hard to approach him.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Flu

A contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses;
She was bedridden with the flu for a week.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Cold

Low in temperature;
The water was too cold for swimming.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023
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Flu

Informal term for influenza;
Flu season is approaching, time to get vaccinated.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Cold

A fresh trail in hunting;
The hounds are on a cold scent.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Flu

A general sense of fatigue or disorientation;
I've got the flu and can't concentrate.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Cold

Having a low temperature
Cold water.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Flu

Used to describe a sudden occurrence;
His decision to leave was out of the blue, like catching the flu.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Cold

Being at a temperature that is less than what is required or what is normal
Cold oatmeal.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Flu

Influenza.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Chilled by refrigeration or ice
Cold beer.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Flu

Any of several infections that affect the respiratory or gastrointestinal tract and are caused by viruses other than the influenza virus.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Feeling no warmth; uncomfortably chilled
We were cold sitting by the drafty windows.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Flu

Influenza.
Catch flu
Get over the flu
Transmit flu
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Appearing to be dead; unconscious
Found him out cold on the floor.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Flu

(informal) Stomach flu.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Dead
Was cold in his grave.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Flu

An acute febrile highly contagious viral disease
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Lacking emotion; objective
Cold logic.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Having little appeal to the senses or feelings
A cold decor.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Designating or being in a tone or color, such as pale gray, that suggests little warmth.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Not affectionate or friendly; aloof
A cold person.
A cold nod.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Exhibiting or feeling no enthusiasm
A cold audience.
A cold response to the new play.
A concert that left me cold.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Devoid of sexual desire; frigid.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Having lost all freshness or vividness through passage of time
Dogs attempting to catch a cold scent.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

So intense as to be almost uncontrollable
Cold fury.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Characterized by repeated failure, especially in a sport or competitive activity
The team fell into a slump of cold shooting.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

To an unqualified degree; totally
Was cold sober.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

With complete finality
We turned him down cold.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Without advance preparation or introduction
Took the exam cold and passed.
Walked in cold and got the new job.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Relative lack of warmth
Cold slows down chemical reactions.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

The sensation resulting from lack of warmth; chill.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

A condition of low air temperature; cold weather
Went out into the cold and got a chill.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

A viral infection characterized by inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the upper respiratory passages and usually accompanied by malaise, fever, chills, coughing, and sneezing. Also called common cold, coryza.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(of a thing) Having a low temperature.
A cold wind whistled through the trees.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(of the weather) Causing the air to be cold.
The forecast is that it will be very cold today.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(of a person or animal) Feeling the sensation of coldness, especially to the point of discomfort.
She was so cold she was shivering.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Unfriendly; emotionally distant or unfeeling.
She shot me a cold glance before turning her back.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Dispassionate; not prejudiced or partisan; impartial.
Let's look at this tomorrow with a cold head.
He's a nice guy, but the cold facts say we should fire him.
The cold truth is that states rarely undertake military action unless their national interests are at stake.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Completely unprepared; without introduction.
He was assigned cold calls for the first three months.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Unconscious or deeply asleep; deprived of the metaphorical heat associated with life or consciousness.
I knocked him out cold.
After one more beer he passed out cold.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(usually with "have" or "know" transitively) Perfectly, exactly, completely; by heart; down pat.
Practice your music scales until you know them cold.
Try both these maneuvers until you have them cold and can do them in the dark without thinking.
Rehearse your lines until you have them down cold.
Keep that list in front of you, or memorize it cold.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(usually with "have" transitively) Cornered; done for.
With that receipt, we have them cold for fraud.
Criminal interrogation. Initially they will dream up explanations faster than you could ever do so, but when they become fatigued, often they will acknowledge that you have them cold.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(obsolete) Not pungent or acrid.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(obsolete) Unexciting; dull; uninteresting.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Affecting the sense of smell (as of hunting dogs) only feebly; having lost its odour.
A cold scent
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(obsolete) Not sensitive; not acute.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Distant; said, in the game of hunting for some object, of a seeker remote from the thing concealed. Compare warm and hot.
You're cold … getting warmer … hot! You've found it!
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(painting) Having a bluish effect; not warm in colour.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(databases) Rarely used or accessed, and thus able to be relegated to slower storage.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(informal) Without compassion; heartless; ruthless.
I can't believe she said that...that was cold!
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(informal) Not radioactive.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(firearm) Not loaded with a round of live ammunition.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Without electrical power being supplied.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

A condition of low temperature.
Come in, out of the cold.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

A harsh place; a place of abandonment.
The former politician was left out in the cold after his friends deserted him.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(medicine) A common, usually harmless, viral illness, usually with congestion of the nasal passages and sometimes fever.
I caught a miserable cold and had to stay home for a week
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(slang) rheum, sleepy dust
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

At a low temperature.
The steel was processed cold.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Without preparation.
The speaker went in cold and floundered for a topic.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

In a cold, frank, or realistically honest manner.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Deprived of heat, or having a low temperature; not warm or hot; gelid; frigid.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Lacking the sensation of warmth; suffering from the absence of heat; chilly; shivering; as, to be cold.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Not pungent or acrid.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Wanting in ardor, intensity, warmth, zeal, or passion; spiritless; unconcerned; reserved.
A cold and unconcerned spectator.
No cold relation is a zealous citizen.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Unwelcome; disagreeable; unsatisfactory.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Wanting in power to excite; dull; uninteresting.
What a deal of cold business doth a man misspend the better part of life in!
The jest grows cold . . . when in comes on in a second scene.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Affecting the sense of smell (as of hunting dogs) but feebly; having lost its odor; as, a cold scent.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Not sensitive; not acute.
Smell this business with a sense as coldAs is a dead man's nose.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Distant; - said, in the game of hunting for some object, of a seeker remote from the thing concealed.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Having a bluish effect. Cf. Warm, 8.
He was slain in cold blood after the fight was over.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

The relative absence of heat or warmth.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

The sensation produced by the escape of heat; chilliness or chillness.
When she saw her lord prepared to part,A deadly cold ran shivering to her heart.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

A morbid state of the animal system produced by exposure to cold or dampness; a catarrh.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

To become cold.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

A mild viral infection involving the nose and respiratory passages (but not the lungs);
Will they never find a cure for the common cold?
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

The absence of heat;
The coldness made our breath visible
Come in out of the cold
Cold is a vasoconstrictor
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

The sensation produced by low temperatures;
He shivered from the cold
The cold helped clear his head
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Used of physical coldness; having a low or inadequate temperature or feeling a sensation of coldness or having been made cold by e.g. ice or refrigeration;
A cold climate
A cold room
Dinner has gotten cold
Cold fingers
If you are cold, turn up the heat
A cold beer
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Extended meanings; especially of psychological coldness; without human warmth or emotion;
A cold unfriendly nod
A cold and unaffectionate person
A cold impersonal manner
Cold logic
The concert left me cold
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Having lost freshness through passage of time;
A cold trail
Dogs attempting to catch a cold scent
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

(color) giving no sensation of warmth;
A cold bluish gray
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Marked by errorless familiarity;
Had her lines cold before rehearsals started
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

No longer new; uninteresting;
Cold (or stale) news
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

So intense as to be almost uncontrollable;
Cold fury gripped him
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Sexually unresponsive;
Was cold to his advances
A frigid woman
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Without compunction or human feeling;
In cold blood
Cold-blooded killing
Insensate destruction
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Feeling or showing no enthusiasm;
A cold audience
A cold response to the new play
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Unconscious from a blow or shock or intoxication;
The boxer was out cold
Pass out cold
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Of a seeker; far from the object sought
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Lacking the warmth of life;
Cold in his grave
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cold

Unemotional or detached;
She gave a cold response to my question.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What are common flu symptoms?

High fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

What causes a cold?

Colds are caused by viruses, primarily rhinoviruses.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Can colds be prevented?

Frequent handwashing and avoiding close contact with sick people can reduce risk.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Should I see a doctor for a cold?

Usually not, unless symptoms are severe or persistent.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Is the flu vaccine effective?

Yes, it reduces the risk of flu and its severity.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

How long is the flu contagious?

Typically up to a week after symptoms start.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Can colds lead to other health problems?

Rarely, they can lead to sinus or ear infections.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Can I get the flu from the vaccine?

No, the vaccine cannot cause the flu.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

How can I tell if it's a cold or flu?

Flu symptoms are usually more severe and come on suddenly.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

When is flu season?

Generally, from fall to early spring.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Are children more susceptible to colds?

Yes, due to their less mature immune systems.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Are antibiotics effective for colds or flu?

No, antibiotics don't work against viruses.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Are flu symptoms different in children?

They can include vomiting and diarrhea, which are less common in adults.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Can colds turn into the flu?

No, they are caused by different viruses.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Is it safe to exercise with a cold?

Mild to moderate physical activity is usually fine.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

What are flu complications?

Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

What are the best treatments for flu?

Rest, hydration, and possibly antiviral medications.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

Can a flu shot cause side effects?

Minor side effects like soreness at the injection site are possible.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

How often should I get the flu vaccine?

Annually, as flu viruses change every year.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

How does cold weather affect colds?

It doesn't directly cause colds, but may contribute to their spread.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 18, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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DDR3 is a type of RAM with standard voltage (1.5V), while DDR3L is a low voltage variant (1.35V) compatible with both 1.5V and 1.35V slots.
Pebble vs. StonePebble vs. Stone
Dua FatimaDua Fatima
May 30, 2024
A pebble is a small, smooth rock worn by water or weather, typically found on beaches or rivers, while a stone is a larger, more varied rock that can be rough or smooth, used in construction or as a tool.
5'11" vs. 6'0"5’11” vs. 6’0″
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
February 4, 2024
The difference between 5'11" and 6'0" is one inch, with 5'11" being 71 inches and 6'0" being 72 inches tall.
NDM vs. FTPNDM vs. FTP
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
February 15, 2024
NDM (Network Data Mover) automates and secures data transfers across networks, while FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a standard network protocol for transferring files between computers.
Crane vs. HeronCrane vs. Heron
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
June 24, 2024
Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds known for their elaborate dances, while herons are typically more solitary, stealth hunters with a distinctive S-shaped neck.
Traditional Trade vs. Modern TradeTraditional Trade vs. Modern Trade
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
December 25, 2023
Traditional trade involves local, small-scale, often personalized commerce; modern trade is characterized by large-scale, technology-driven, and impersonal retail environments.
Explain vs. DefineExplain vs. Define
Dua FatimaDua Fatima
June 22, 2024
Explaining involves detailing or clarifying a concept, often including context and examples, whereas defining means stating the exact meaning of a word or phrase, typically in a concise manner.

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