What’s the difference between a Cold & a Flu

Do you have trouble telling the difference between a cold & flu, and how to treat or prevent them?

Both are the symptoms produced by our bodies when fighting higher respiratory illnesses, caused by viruses. Both are contagious . They are just different viruses, with the flu causing more severe symptoms.

A cold can be created by up to 200 virus strains, with the most common being the rhinovirus strain.

The flu is the influenza virus. Which is a tougher virus causing our immune system to go that extra mile to fight it.

Feeling sick


Colds generally start slow and can take 7-10 days to clear. Symptoms range from runny or blocked nose, sore throat, cough, to occasional body aches and headaches.

The flu usually comes on suddenly and you feel like you have been hit by a truck. It can take up to 2 weeks to clear. Symptoms can include the Cold symptoms, but also include fever, chills, fatigue, aches, headaches and sometimes nausea & vomiting.

How are they Transmitted ?

Both colds & flus are transmitted the same way. By droplets from sneezing or coughing. The viruses can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours for the flu and longer for the cold, and can be transmitted just by touching our nose, mouth or eyes, after touching a contaminated surface.


If you have a cold or flu it is best to stay at home to reduce passing it on. Washing hands regularly, and sneezing & coughing into tissues and disposing, will help reduce spread of the virus.

Getting the flu shot/vaccine may reduce your chances of getting the flu, or may reduce severity, if you do happen to get it.


As Flu & Colds are viruses, antibiotics will not work, as they do with bacteria.

There are two antivirals that are used in the Flu vaccination that can also be used to treat an active flu infection. Though Medical Professionals tend to only prescribe these to high risk patients.

So what is left, is to ride out the cold or flu, by drinking lots of fluids, and managing the symptoms with pain killers, antihistamines, decongestants and vitamins.

Some medications & supplements used to help fight Colds & Flus.

It is very important to monitor the symptoms/progression and to see a Doctor if either the fever is 38° or higher, or the person is suffering  from shortness of breath, which can be a sign of pneumonia.  Additionally if  vomiting or nausea persists, without being able to keep fluids down.

The Qld Health website recommends to “see your doctor or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) if you have a cough and high fever (38°C or more) that is not improving, trouble breathing, chest pain, or if you have any other concerns about your symptoms.”

What do you do to get relief from Colds & Flus?

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