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Scratchy throat, sniffles, chills — winter is cold and flu season. But what’s the difference, and when is a doctor visit necessary? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention delineate:

- Both are respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses.
- A cold has milder symptoms, such as a stuffy nose, while the flu can result in fever, sore throat and muscle aches.
- Colds do not typically lead to serious health issues, but the flu can.

Still not sure? Within the first day or so of symptoms, a doctor can perform a rapid influenza diagnostic test by swiping the inside of the nose or back of the throat. The test produces a negative or positive flu reading in 10 to 15 minutes. There are prescription antiviral medications that lessen the severity of flu symptoms.

With a cold, however, the best advice is partly grandma’s: “Feed a cold.” Everyday Health, however, disputes the adage’s “starve a fever” aspect. Plenty of healthy foods and fluids as well as rest are the ticket for both cold and flu recovery.

Chicken soup holds sway as a centuries-old home remedy for a number of reasons:

- Nutrition and hydration: The soup stock, made from slow-cooked chicken bones, vegetables and garlic, is loaded with vitamins and minerals.
- Comfort: The soup’s steam, breathed in, and the warmth as it goes down soothe psychologically and emotionally, says Food Network, which offers myriad chicken soup recipes.

Chicken soup is a top Healthline home remedy for colds and flu. Others are a bit of raw ginger root in boiling water, honey and lemon in tea, Echinacea, vitamin C and probiotics.

Plus, any number of over-the-counter products ease symptoms of both — but the CDC maintains there are no quick cures for either colds or the flu. Ways to avoid coming down with either are to wash hands frequently, cover mouth and nose when sneezing, and avoid those who are sick.