Beginning each fall, this is a question I am asked on a daily basis. Basically, while they are both caused by a virus, and share many of the same qualities, there are important differences. Influenza, or the flu, is less likely to cause congestion and runny nose type symptoms, and is more likely to cause a fever. The following table gives some good trending data to help you decide. Most importantly, the Flu can get people into trouble with pneumonia and other breathing problems, while this almost never happens with a "common cold." If you are having trouble breathing, or short of breath, you need to see the doctor NOW.