Cold or Flu or Something Else?


Tis the season! The season for all things bacterial, viral, and everything in between. The fall and winter bring cooler temperatures (usually) as well as the hustle and bustle of the holidays. This does not leave much time for sick kids or, heaven forbid, a sick parent! But when the inevitable sickness occurs, we are often left wondering what we have come down with.

We are grateful to Premier ER & Urgent Care for providing us a list of signs and symptoms of the common illnesses that pop up this time of year. Key indicators help distinguish the differences and can help you know what to watch for to keep your family healthy.

cold or flu

RSV (Respiratory Synctial Virus)
In adults, this is a typical cold, but in kids, specifically four and under, it is the leading cause of lower respiratory tract infections. It can also be linked to subsequent reactive airway disease also known as asthma. RSV manifests primarily as bronchitis or pneumonia.

What to look for:
– Cough
– Rapid or fast breathing (known as tachypnea) *KEY INDICATOR*
– Retractions (you will see this in the neck, chest/rib area)
– A bluish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis)
– Wheezing
– Fever (low grade)

Common Cold
Adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, but children have even more. Most people get colds in the winter and spring, but it is possible to get a cold any time of the year. Most people recover from the virus within 7-10 days.

Symptoms usually include:
– Sore throat
– Runny nose
– Coughing
– Sneezing
– Headache
– Mild body aches

One we are all too familiar with! An illness that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome. Though Covid-19 has similar symptoms to RSV and the other illnesses listed, below are the specific things to look for. Premier ER has easy access to Covid-19 testing that can be found here.

In children, most commonly:
– Fever
– Cough

Other symptoms include:
– Shortness of breath
– Fatigue
– Muscle pain or weakness
– Vomiting
– Abdominal pain
– Nasal congestion
– Fever
– Loss of sense of taste and/or smell *KEY INDICATOR*

Flu (Influenza)
Flu is one of the most common and contagious illnesses. There can be a range in the acuity of Flu, but it is usually seasonal between the months of October through March or April.

Symptoms include:
– Fever
– Sore throat
– Weakness and severe fatigue *KEY INDICATOR*
– Cough
– Nasal discharge
– Headache

Strep Throat
Strep throat is a bacterial infection that may cause a sore, scratchy throat. This illness is usually mild and more common in children.

Symptoms include:
– Sore throat that starts quickly *KEY INDICATOR*
– Pain when swallowing
– Fever
– Red or swollen tonsils
– Swollen lymph nodes in the neck

cold or flu

Hopefully this list will provide some clarity on what you might be dealing with. But if not, Premier ER is happy to take walk-ins and they also make it easy to book an appointment online. With an immaculate waiting room, quick service, friendly staff, and knowledgable doctors, we couldn’t love Premier ER & Urgent Care more!


The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please always consult a doctor and if you fear there is a medical emergency, dial 911 immediately or go to your nearest emergency room.