Cold vs Flu – which one do you have?
Colds and the flu are both respiratory illnesses, but caused by different viruses. In fact, there are over 200 different viruses that can cause a cold (hence why you can get one quite often). The flu is a viral infection, for which you can receive a vaccine each year. No vaccine to stop you getting a cold though…
Some of the symptoms of colds and the flu can be similar however, which is why people often wonder which one they have. In general, the flu is a bit more brutal (and can be life-threatening in some cases), but don’t underestimate the power of a cold to knock you around either!
Symptoms of colds vs the flu
There are a few symptoms to look out for. Everyone is different though, so some you might get, some you might not (or you could get them all!). Best bet is not to guess but to chat to your GP, find out whether it is a cold or the flu and be treated accordingly. But here’s a guideline to start:
- Body aches – these can be severe with the flu, less-severe with a cold.
- Fever – can last for days with the flu, but you may not even get one with a cold.
- Sore throat – common with both, but more likely with a cold.
- Cough – common with both, but can be severe with the flu.
- Headaches – more likely to be experienced with the flu, but you might get one with a cold.
- Sneezing – sometimes you’ll sneeze your way through the flu, more likely to be sneezing with a cold.
- Fatigue/exhaustion/weakness – can hit you hard with the flu (and last a while), but won’t be as bad with a cold.
Eeekk! I’ve got a cold or the flu – what do I do?
First things first, get in touch with your GP to make sure you know which one you have. They will then advise you on the best course of treatment to get better, but as a minimum you might like to try:
- Getting some rest
- Drinking lots of water
- Keeping warm
You might also find that inhaling steam and/or ice and honey and lemon drinks provide you with a bit of relief. When you chat to your GP, they’ll also give you advice on any medicines you can take to make you feel better, and speed up your return to good health.
I don’t want to get that again!
Frequent hand-washing and top-notch personal hygiene can help to stop the spread of the cold or flu virus.
You can also receive an annual vaccination against the most common strains of the flu for that season, which we can help arrange for you.
Depending on your circumstances, and where you live, this vaccination may be free.
Whether it’s a cold or the flu, to get back on your feet as quickly as possible we suggest making an appointment with a GP for specialist medical advice tailored to your needs. With SwiftDoc, we can chat via video consult – great for those who aren’t feeling well enough to pop out for a doctor visit.