People often talk about colds and flu (influenza) together, but it's important to realise colds and flu are different illnesses caused by different viruses. Find out more about how to treat each one here, how to avoid catching the cold or the flu, and special information on being ill during pregnancy and looking babies and children with a cold or flu.
Get a flu shot
It is important to get the flu vaccination each year to continue to be protected, since it wears off after 3 to 4 months.
Colds and flu symptoms can be very similar to the symptoms of COVID-19. Even if your symptoms are mild, get tested for COVID-19 immediately — use the colds and flu Symptom Checker if you're not sure what to do.
Adults can experience the common cold between 2 and 4 times a year, and kids can get up to 10 colds a year. Here's how to prevent and treat colds.
Learn all about influenza — a viral infection affecting the nose, throat and sometimes lungs — including its symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
When to get the flu vaccine
Australians are being urged to get their flu vaccination as soon as possible, to reduce the risk of a dangerous double-up of seasonal influenza and coronavirus (COVID-19).
More flu vaccine FAQs
Do you want to know more about the flu vaccine? Here are answers to some common questions, such as, 'I have an egg allergy; can I still have the flu shot?'
Is it a cold or the flu?
Can't tell if you have a cold or the flu? This infographic helps you compare cold and flu symptoms, and debunks some common myths.
10 tips to fight the flu
There are many things you can do to help protect yourself from the flu. This infographic takes you through the top 10.
Colds and flu in babies and children
Very young children may have had little or no previous contact with the viruses that cause colds and flu, so they may have low resistance to infection.
Colds and flu during pregnancy
If you are considering pregnancy or are already pregnant, it's highly recommended that you have a flu vaccination to help protect you and your baby.
Colds and flu medication
There are many over-the-counter medicines that might relieve cold and flu symptoms, including paracetamol, ibuprofen and nasal decongestants.
Frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illnesses such as the flu, common cold and coronavirus (COVID-19).
A normal temperature is around 36-37°C; a fever is a temperature of 38°C or higher. Here's how to treat a high temperature, which is often a symptom of an infection.
Fever in children
Fevers are quite common in young children and are usually mild. Sometimes the causes of a fever will require urgent attention, but in most cases they can be managed at home.
If your child is sick they may need to stay home from school to prevent spreading their illness to others. Here's a list of school exclusion periods for the flu, gastro, chickenpox and more.
Flu trends in Australia
Healthdirect Australia collects data based on flu-related calls to the healthdirect helpline. This information is used to calculate flu trends.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: April 2020