The common cold and the flu are both respiratory illnesses that are highly contagious, have similar symptoms, but are caused by different viruses. Both are spread through coughing and sneezing, and touching contaminated surfaces. Colds and the flu can be prevented by covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or an elbow; washing hands frequently; refraining from touching your mouth, eyes and nose with unwashed hands; and trying to stay healthy.
Most people feel worse with the flu and experience fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, aches, headaches and fatigue. The flu can lead to serious health problems including pneumonia. Colds usually involve a runny or stuffy nose. Vaccines can help prevent the flu, and good hand washing technique can help prevent the spread of germs that cause both illnesses.