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Flu symptoms or a cold?

Feeling under the weather? Are you wondering whether it's symptoms of the flu or a cold?

Because flu symptoms are quite similar to cold symptoms, it's often hard to tell the difference. However, there is one clue about flu that can help you: flu symptoms occur sooner after exposure, and are usually more intense than cold symptoms.

What symptoms will I have with flu?

With the flu you’ll have muscle aches and periods of chills and sweats as a fever comes and goes. You may also have a stuffy or runny nose, headache and sore throat. After the acute symptoms have subsided you may feel very weak and fatigued for up to two or three weeks.

Can I compare flu symptoms with cold symptoms?

Yes. The following chart can help you compare flu symptoms with cold symptoms. Use it to learn the differences and similarities between flu and cold symptoms. Then, if you get flu symptoms, you can seek medical advice to see if an antiviral medicine is appropriate for you.

Symptoms

Cold

Flu

Fever

Rare

Characteristic, high
(higher than 38C); lasts 3-4 days

Headache

Uncommon

Prominent

General aches, pains

Slight

Usual; often severe

Fatigue, weakness

Quite mild

Can last up to 2-3 weeks

Extreme exhaustion

Rare

Early and prominent

Stuffy nose

Common

Sometimes

Sneezing

Usual

Sometimes

Sore throat

Common

Sometimes

Chest discomfort,
cough

Mild to moderate;
hacking cough

Common; can become severe

Complications

Sinus congestion
or earache

Bronchitis,  pneumonia;
can be life threatening

Prevention

Good hygiene

Good hygiene, annual  flu jab

Treatment

Over the counter symptomatic relief

Over the counter symptomatic relief. Antiviral drugs within 24-48 hours
of onset may be advised

 

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 29, 2012

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