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Flu or cold? How to tell what you have

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Photo by Mourner / Vladimir Agafonkin via Flickr Creative commons

As far as infectious indicators go, there are three important symptoms to consider if you suspect a cold might actually be the flu — fever, chills, and body aches. 

This particular melange of feel-baddery is a good place to start assessing since the trio is known to associate with influenza, but not often found consorting with the common cold.

RELATED: Health officials: Flu is widespread in California

INFLUENZA VS. COLD (via CDC)

Influenza, or flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. 

Unlike a cold, which is caused by different viruses, the flu usually comes on suddenly and may include some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish (however, not everyone with flu will have a fever)
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

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PHOTOS: KPCC's Steve Julian and John Rabe get their flu shots

Andrea Wang/KPCC

CVS Pharmacist Jill Kolin administers a flu shot to KPCC's morning anchor Steve Julian. Why so serious?

Andrea Wang/KPCC

Kolin carefully draws the fluid to insure no air bubbles enter the syringe. Presence of air would cause extra discomfort to the patient.

Andrea Wang/ KPCC

Julian flexes, displaying a band-aid after the shot.

Andrea Wang/KPCC

Show some love to your local pharmacist!


Flu season has started, and it's a race. As the influenza virus searches for vulnerable victims, CVS pharmacist Jill Kolin came to KPCC to give flu shots, including a live on-air flu shot for Morning Edition host Steve Julian.

RELATED: KPCC's Stephanie O'Neill debunks six myths about flu shots

According to Kolin, people should not be deterred by any soreness the vaccine causes.

"Sometimes people may feel a little bit of achiness, maybe a slight headache, but it's nothing compared to when you actually get the flu. The flu can be so debilitating that when you're laying down you can't even turn over — it hurts to move your body," she said.

With sleeve rolled, Off-Ramp host John Rabe musters focus for his impending flu shot:

A close-up shot of the vaccine:

The needle approaches...

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