ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Got a sore throat and runny nose? Could you be the latest to come down with the flu, or is it just a cold?

SLU Care infectious diseases specialist Dr. Nirav Patel at SSM Health SLU Hospital says there’s a lot of overlap between the two.

They are both respiratory illnesses but are caused by different viruses. Colds, he says, are usually milder than the flu and people with colds are more likely to have upper respiratory problems like a sore throat and a runny or stuffy nose.

As for the flu:

“It can cause lower respiratory infections, pneumonias, and very frequently with the flu you’ll also get what we call extra pulmonary systems, things that are outside of the lungs, muscle aches and pains, more severe headache, those things are not typical of some of the other respiratory viruses,” he says.

The flu also can bring with it vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

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