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Cold or Flu?

Cold or Flu?

The common cold and the flu are both respiratory illnesses caused by viruses, and can have very similar symptoms. So how can you tell the difference? Here's a quick guide:

Flu symptoms generally:


  • Come on quickly and severely

  • Include fever, which tends to be higher and last longer
    (3-4 days) than fever which occasionally accompanies a cold

  • Include body aches, and severe tiredness and fatigue


Tests are available to diagnose the flu, although no such tests exist for colds.

Antiviral medicines are also available to treat the flu if needed. Consult your healthcare professional if you think you may have the flu - they will decide which course of treatment is best for you based on your symptoms and medical history.

Cold symptoms generally:

  • Gradually get worse over a few days

  • Are more likely to include a runny or stuffy nose than the flu

  • Often include a sore throat; whereas the flu rarely does

  • May cause tiredness, but it is much less severe than exhaustion caused by flu

  • Do not usually result in serious health problems