Health & Fitness

Flu Symptoms: Seven Signs Your Cold is ACTUALLY a case of Influenza

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Cold and flu season is upon us, but with both illnesses carrying a similar set of symptoms, how can you tell which one you’ve got. While some of the symptoms are the same, others only appear as a result of the influenza virus.

Cold and flu are viral illnesses which are widely known for having similar symptoms. But it’s important to be able to distinguish between the two because flu is deemed more serious. For those who fall into the ‘at risk’ category, including young children, elderly and those that are pregnant, the virus can lead to life-threatening complications. So what are the main differences between the two?

According to Montana Communicable Disease Epidemiology, there are seven distinguishable differences between cold and flu.


One of the most common symptoms of both cold and flu is a cough, but its severity can differ.

If a cough is mild or moderate it’s most likely a cold, but if it lasts two to three weeks it’s likely to be influenza.


Sneezing is common with a cold but only sometimes appears with influenza.

Body aches

Body aches are uncommon in cases of a cold, but if it does occur it should only be mild.


You may feel some mild weakness if you have a cold but with influenza this can be severe.


It’s uncommon that you experience chills with a cold but in cases of influenza, getting sudden cold shivers is common.


It’s rare you’ll experience a headache if you have a cold but this will usually occur for someone with influenza. This can also be severe.


A fever is rare in someone that has a cold but for a patient with influenza their body temperature can be 100F or higher.

How to prevent the spread of colds and flu:

  • Get a flu jab
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash your hands
  • Cover your cough

Cold and flu treatment

Both illness can be treated at home by getting some rest and sleep, keeping warm, taking paracetamol or ibuprofen and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

But if you have flu and develop sudden chest pain, have difficulty breathing or start coughing up blood you should call 999 or go to A&E.

Aussie flu – the nickname given to the H3N2 strain of the influenza virus – was one of the main strains of flu which spread throughout Britain last year.


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