We are now offering walk-in Rapid COVID-19 Antigen and PCR Testing at our North Andover clinic – NO APPOINTMENT NEEDED. Online registration is still recommended (please follow all steps and upload insurance information and photo ID).  We are also seeing patients for general urgent care needs and following the strictest protocols for patient safety.



Common Cold vs. Influenza

Feeling feverish, congested, and achy, but can’t quite tell if it’s the common cold or flu? You are not alone. Many people have that same episode when they experience those symptoms and cannot tell the difference. Both conditions are respiratory illnesses with some shared similarities, which makes it often confusing to differentiate between the two. Knowing whether you have symptoms of the common cold or influenza will boil down to knowing how to spot the differences. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, visit AFC Urgent Care North Andover. We will be able to diagnose and treat your symptoms to help you feel your best.

Influenza and the cold, though respiratory illnesses, are the result of different viruses. Influenza symptoms are generally more severe when compared to those of the common cold, which are much milder.

Cold Symptoms

A sore throat is usually the first cold symptom to appear, but it only lasts for a day or two. Other symptoms include a runny and stuffy nose, congestion close behind, and then four or five days later, a cough. A slight fever could be a symptom in adults, though not as common. A fever is more typical in children. Nasal secretion can change from clear and watery after a few days, thickening up and becoming opaque, with a greenish or yellowish tone. Commonly, a cold symptom usually lasts for seven days and usually does not cause complications like pneumonia or hospitalizations.

Flu Symptoms

Flu symptoms and signs manifest suddenly and are usually intense. Symptoms of the flu may include sore throat, fever or feeling feverish/chills (not everyone will have a fever), headache, muscle and body aches, runny or stuffy nose, soreness, congestion, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea may be experienced, but it’s more common in children. There is usually the gradual improvement of flu symptoms between two and five days. It’s typical to feel drained or ill for a week or longer.

Treatment Options for Influenza and the Common Cold

Common Cold

Since there’s no cure for the common cold and antibiotics can’t help, the emphasis is placed on treating the signs and symptoms. Several over-the-counter drugs can be taken to minimize the symptoms, including antihistamines, decongestants, acetaminophen, and anti-inflammatories, which can alleviate congestion, aches, and other cold symptoms. Cough syrups, saline nasal drops, and decongestant nasal sprays are other options that can help tackle cold symptoms. Speak with one of our AFC physicians if you are unsure about certain medications.


Influenza can be treated with antiviral drugs to minimize symptoms, reduce sick days, and even prevent complications, like pneumonia, especially in high-risk individuals. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, reduce symptoms, and feel better overall. Over-the-counter medications are usually recommended, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Rest is also recommended to allow the immune system to do its job and fight the infection. If you’re still unsure about your symptoms, visit AFC North Andover, who can deliver an accurate diagnosis and recommend treatment. An effective preventative measure against the cold and flu is proper hand hygiene. Getting the flu shot each season is a good measure to take to protect you and your family.