While They Are Hard To Tell Apart, There Are Important Distinctions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — So you’re sneezing, coughing and have that achy feverish feeling, but how do you know if you have a cold or the flu?

Doctors said myths about both are as hard to fight as the viruses themselves, CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reported Friday.

They share the same symptoms, even feel the same.

A cold and the flu are tough to tell apart, but there are important distinctions that can help you know the difference.

“If you’re a relatively healthy person with a low-grade fever of 100 degrees or 100.5 or so and you’re miserable but you’re breathing fine and walking and talking, that is probably just a cold,” said Dr. Sorana Segal-Maurer, an infectious disease expert at New York Hospital in Queens.

It’s the flu, doctors say, if you have a fever of 102 or higher along with a dry, unproductive cough.

“We talk about colds and flu in the same breath but, Influenza A is much more serious than a cold, typically associated with prominent headache, fever, muscle aches just feeling really sick, weak, not wanting to eat,” said Dr. Thomas Birch, of Holy Name Medical Center.

But experts said it’s actually very important to eat well, because if you don’t, it can take longer to recover.

“Feed a cold and starve a fever is absolute myth,” said Indie Lee, a holistic health practitioner.

So how about taking large quantities of Vitamin C — can it really prevent a cold or even the flu?

“Taking large quantities of Vitamin C isn’t going to prevent you from getting ill,” Lee said.

But some studies show it may reduce symptoms and the duration of being sick.

“Grandma used to say ‘Where’s your scarf? Where’s your hat? You’re going to get a cold.’ Don’t go out with wet hair is another one,” Segal-Maurer said.

So can you really get a cold from feeling cold?

“My own daughter has long hair and goes out all the time and nothing happens to her,” Segal-Maurer said.

And remember, the cold and flu are viruses, which cannot be treated with antibiotics.

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