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Cold and flu quiz: Can you tell the difference?

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You have a runny nose and sore throat. It's probably:

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You have a runny nose and sore throat. It's probably:

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

It's more likely to be a cold but you can't rule out the flu. Both illnesses have similar symptoms, caused by viruses affecting the upper airways. The key is that colds usually have milder symptoms. More severe symptoms indicating flu include:

  • A high temperature (higher than 38C)
  • General aches and pains
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Chest discomfort, dry cough
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Symptoms of a cold usually build gradually but flu comes on fast and furious.

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Symptoms of a cold usually build gradually but flu comes on fast and furious.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Cold symptoms tend to build up gradually and last about 10 days. The flu, on the other hand, usually strikes suddenly – over 3 to 6 hours. If you feel like you've been 'hit for six', it's a good indication you may have the flu.

Being totally wiped out is a sign of:

Being totally wiped out is a sign of:

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Extreme, debilitating exhaustion is a classic sign of flu. If you feel you can't get out of bed, don't even try. Exhaustion may be accompanied by fever, chills and body aches. Listen to your body and get plenty of rest. Seek advice from your pharmacist about over the counter treatments such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with body aches and other symptoms.

It's possible to catch flu from someone before they appear ill.

It's possible to catch flu from someone before they appear ill.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

The flu is extremely contagious. It's possible to catch it from someone who has yet to show symptoms and doesn't know they have it. People with flu can spread it a day before symptoms emerge and remain contagious up to 7 days after that. With colds, people are contagious from 2 to 3 days before symptoms appear and for as long as symptoms are present, so, for up to 2 weeks.

Frequent and thorough hand washing is an important way to limit the spread of colds and flu.

It's best to stay at home if you have a cold.

It's best to stay at home if you have a cold.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

There's no hard and fast rule about when to call in sick. Use your common sense and assess how you feel. If you can't focus, you have a hacking cough, or you believe you are contagious, it may be best for you, and your colleagues, if you call in sick. If you must go to work, keep your germs to yourself. Cover your mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing, wash your hands and use hand sanitiser often. If you have the flu, stay at home. You probably won't feel up to going in anyway -- and no-one will thank you for passing it around.

Drinking lots of fluids helps with the flu but not a cold.

Drinking lots of fluids helps with the flu but not a cold.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Fluids are good for both conditions. Hydration helps break up congestion and water down mucous. Water, herbal teas and soups or broth can be helpful.

It's alright to go back to work once your fever has subsided.

It's alright to go back to work once your fever has subsided.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

It's best to wait to return to work until at least 24 hours after any high temperature has returned to normal. That is ideally without using medicines to keep it down. To avoid passing on the illness it's also best to avoid travelling, social events and public places for at least a full day after your fever has gone.

Chicken soup may be helpful in fighting off a cold.

Chicken soup may be helpful in fighting off a cold.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

The jury is still out but chicken soup for a cold may not be an old wive's tale. Sipping spoonfuls of chicken soup can be comforting and help keep your fluids up during a cold. Simply inhaling the steam may ease nasal congestion.  Some laboratory studies found chicken soup also has some anti-inflammatory properties, although it's unclear whether this effect translates to colds in the real world.

Who is most at risk from the flu?

Who is most at risk from the flu?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Despite medical advances the NHS says about 600 people a year in the UK die from seasonal flu. While anyone can get flu, infants, elderly people and pregnant women are more at risk. People with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, lung disease and HIV/AIDS have a higher risk of flu complications.

Which is best for soothing a sore throat?

Which is best for soothing a sore throat?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Gargling with a mix of warm water and a teaspoon of salt water can sometimes help to relieve the symptoms of a sore throat and nasal congestion. Vapour rubs won't help a sore throat but they can help to soothe the nasal congestion symptoms of a cold. Apply to the chest and back. Avoid the nostrils because this could cause pain and breathing difficulties.

A cold usually lasts:

A cold usually lasts:

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Colds can last up to 2 weeks but most are gone after a week. Seek medical advice if you have:

  • A high temperature despite taking fever-lowering medication
  • Chest pains
  • Swollen glands
  • Severe sinus pain
  • A productive (phlegm-producing) cough with blood
  • Difficulty breathing

You need antibiotics for a bad cold.

You need antibiotics for a bad cold.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Antibiotics do not work for the common cold. This type of medicine works on bacterial illnesses, not viruses that cause colds. You may be prescribed antibiotics if your cold triggers a bacterial infection such as an ear or sinus infection. Otherwise, you'll need to let the cold run its course. Bear in mind, taking antibiotics when you don't need them can lead to antibiotic resistance.  

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Your Score:   You correctly answered   out of   questions.
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