Dr. Debra Kay, DO
When we’re not feeling well, it can be difficult to know if it’s
a cold or something more serious. Symptoms of a cold or the stomach flu
are often confused with influenza. Dr. Deborah Kay, a family practice
physician, said there are a few key symptoms to be aware of to know the
difference. “Cold symptoms usually start with a runny or stuffy
nose, followed by a headache,” Dr. Kay said. “Influenza, on
the other hand, starts off more severely.” Influenza symptoms include
body aches, a fever, chills and a sore throat, and then progress to a
According to the CDC, influenza symptoms are sudden and more intense, and
if it’s not treated quickly, pneumonia or bacterial infections can
develop. “Influenza typically lasts about five to seven days,”
Dr. Kay said, “but if you see your primary care doctor within the
first 48 hours… you may be prescribed medication which can help
you feel better faster.”
Influenza is also commonly mistaken for gastroenteritis or the stomach
flu. “The stomach flu is much more common but is less severe than
influenza,” Dr. Kay said, “and more symptoms associated with
influenza aren’t seen in the everyday stomach flu.”
“The stomach flu is accompanied by nausea and vomiting for about
two to three days,” Dr. Kay said, “and then resolve with little
or no treatment.” These symptoms are uncommon in both the common
cold and influenza. Timing, season, and severity of symptoms can also
help determine what illness you have.
Because these illnesses share many of the same symptoms, it can be difficult
to know what you have. Visit your primary care doctor at the onset of
symptoms to determine what you have and receive proper treatment- check
this comparison chart to help with a quicker diagnosis.
Dr. Debra Kay is board-certified in family medicine with an office in Dearborn Heights.
Call 877-717-9355 or visit https://www.gch.org/Find-a-Physician.aspx for
a referral to a GCH physician.