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All types of flu have similar symptoms. Although the flu and common cold have similar symptoms, the flu tends to be more severe.

Symptoms graphic

  • Flu symptoms include a fever, body aches, tiredness, and cough.
  • Your health care provider can give you a test to determine whether or not you have the flu.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Flu symptoms include:

  • A 100oF or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
  • A cough and/or sore throat
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches and/or body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)

Do I have the flu or a cold?

The flu and the common cold have similar symptoms. It can be difficult to tell the difference between them. Your health care provider can give you a test within the first few days of your illness to determine whether or not you have the flu.

In general, the flu is worse than the common cold. Symptoms such as fever, body aches, tiredness, and cough are more common and intense with the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.

When should I seek emergency medical attention?

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Purple or blue discoloration of the lips
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

I am a U.S. resident experiencing some flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, headache, muscle aches). How do I know if I have seasonal influenza or Ebola?

Seasonal flu and the Ebola virus can cause some similar symptoms. However, Ebola is not common in the United States. Your symptoms are most likely caused by seasonal flu.

Seasonal flu is a respiratory infection that spreads through coughs and sneezes. The Ebola virus is not a respiratory infection and spreads through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola.

While it is difficult to diagnose seasonal flu or Ebola infection based on symptoms alone, there are tests to detect seasonal flu and Ebola infection. Your doctor will determine if you should be tested for these illnesses based on your symptoms and recent travel or exposure history. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of Ebola.