Colds vs. flu - what's the difference?
Have you got a cold, or have you been hit by the flu virus? It’s a question many of us ask – although when we’re ill, we don’t always have the brain power or energy to think too hard about it!
So what is the difference between a cold and flu? Just use our handy guide
What is a cold?
Incredibly, there are more than 100 viruses that can cause a cold. And once it takes hold, you know what dreaded symptoms to expect:
- runny nose (with mucus turning from white to green)
- blocked nose
- sore throat
- general feeling of 'blah'
You may also have a fever and fatigue, and experience symptoms for up to a week or even longer.
What is a flu?
Perhaps the reason we get confused about colds and flu is because they have the same symptoms.
However, a flu will usually hit you harder and faster. It’s also usually accompanied by:
- high fever of up to 40 degrees Celsius
- sore and aching muscles
- extreme fatigue
- dry cough
Severe flu symptoms can be problematic. So if you also have extreme headaches, chest pain, an unusually high fever, or also have a chronic disease like asthma, you should seek medical attention immediately.
How to treat a cold or flu
Whether you have a cold or flu, basic treatment is the same – get some rest, drink plenty of water, and avoid sugar and alcohol. You can buy over-the-counter fixes for a cold. And if you have a flu, you may be prescribed antiviral medication.
Bear in mind that avoiding a cold or flu is far more effective than treating it. So wash your hands throughout the day to avoid transference of germs. Drink plenty of water. Eat a healthy diet to ensure a strong immune system. And get plenty of sleep.