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Comparing Symptoms of the Cold, Flu and H1N1 Swine Flu

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Updated September 05, 2011

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Comparing Symptoms of the Cold, Flu and H1N1 Swine Flu

A woman sick in bed

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The symptoms of the common cold, seasonal flu and H1N1 swine flu can all be very similar and make may it difficult to know which one you have. We have broken down the most common symptoms of these three viruses so you can easily see the differences and similarities between them.

You should also be aware that if you have any of these viruses - the common cold, seasonal flu or H1N1 swine flu - for several days, then you get better for a day or two and suddenly get very sick again, you should see your health care provider because this could be a sign that you have developed complications or a secondary infection.

Sources:

"Questions and Answers: H1N1 Flu ("Swine Flu") and You." H1N1 Flu 03 Nov 09. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 04 Nov 09.

"Flu Symptoms and Severity." Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 08 Sep 09. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 04 Nov 09.

Comparing the Cold, Seasonal Flu and H1N1 Swine Flu

Symptom Common Cold Seasonal Flu H1N1 Swine Flu
Runny/Stuffy Nose Very common Occasional Occasional
Cough Moist and productive Dry cough (may also be productive) Dry cough (may also be productive) A change from a dry cough to a more productive one could be a sign of a secondary infection.
Itchy/Watery Eyes Common Uncommon Uncommon
Fever Uncommon but may occur occasionally in children Very common Common, but less so than with seasonal flu
Exhaustion/Fatigue Mild tiredness may occur Very common Very common
Headache Common - usually due to sinus pressure Common Common
Sore Throat Common, but typically mild Uncommon Very common
Body Aches Minor Severe Severe
Vomiting/Diarrhea These are not symptoms of the common cold Uncommon, but may occur occasionally in children About 10% of people with H1N1 swine flu experience vomiting and diarrhea
Onset of Symptoms Gradual Sudden Sudden
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