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Colds and flu symptoms

Infographic

How can you tell if you have a cold or the flu? Explore this infographic to compare their symptoms and debunk the most common myths.

Symptoms of a cold can include:

  • sore throat
  • fever (a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher)
  • sneezing
  • blocked or runny nose
  • cough.

If you have green or yellow mucous coming out of your nose then it's a sign your immune system is fighting the infection. It doesn't mean your cold is getting worse or that you have a bacterial infection. But if your symptoms don't improve after 10 days, or they get worse, then see your doctor.

Symptoms for influenza (flu) can include:

  • sudden fever with a temperature of 38.5 degrees Celsius or above
  • dry, chesty cough
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • chills
  • aching muscles
  • limb or joint pain
  • diarrhoea or upset stomach
  • sore throat
  • runny or blocked nose
  • sneezing
  • loss of appetite.

See your doctor if you have cold or flu-like symptoms and:

  • symptoms lasting longer than 10 days
  • a cough lasting longer than 3 weeks
  • can’t or won’t drink fluids
  • vomit frequently
  • complain of intense headache
  • are pale and sleepy
  • have chest pain
  • experience breathing difficulties
  • develop a rash with fever
  • you are worried.

See your doctor if your child has cold and flu symptoms and has a chronic medical condition. Warning signs of severe illness including poor feeding, dehydration and difficulty breathing.

See fever in children and symptoms of serious illness in babies and children for more information.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your cold or flu, why not use healthdirect's online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it's self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: September 2016

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Influenza

Influenza is an infection caused by a virus. It is spread from person to person by tiny drops produced during a cough or sneeze and by hand to hand contact. While we often call it the “flu”, the common cold is rarely due to the influenza virus. True influenza causes a much more severe illness than the usual cold.

Read more on Lung Foundation Australia website

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Many people are unsure whether they have a cold or influenza (the flu). The flu is quite different to a cold. It lasts longer and people are usually much more unwell with it. The flu is caused by a few slightly different types of influenza viruses, while colds are caused by many different viruses.

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Winter brings with it the dreaded season for colds and flus. Influenza is an acute respiratory illness caused by the influenza viruses, which can be classified as type A, B, or C. The common cold is usually caused by rhinoviruses.

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The common cold is not the same as flu (influenza). Find out more about cold and flu, including symptoms, treatment and prevention.

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Influenza or flu: children & teenagers | Raising Children Network

Influenza is a viral illness, often mild in children. Flu symptoms include runny nose, sore throat and muscle aches. You can usually treat symptoms at home.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Flu (influenza)

Flu (influenza) is a common, highly contagious virus that affects your respiratory system. It is not the same as the common cold.

Read more on WA Health website

Action Cold and Flu Effervescent | myVMC

Generic Name: Product Name: Action Cold and Flu EffervescentTreats the symptoms of common colds and flu including fever, runny or blocked nose, pain and allergy symptoms

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Cold and flu: what to eat to help relieve specific symptoms | myVMC

Cold and flu can make you lose your appetite, however consuming the right foods and drinks in the right quantities can help relief symptoms like sore throats and blocked noses. Find out how to fight your cold and flu symptoms by eating and drinking

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Influenza virus (flu) treatment information video | myVMC

There is no treatment for influenza infection. Flu symptoms like headache, fever and sore throat can be relieved with cold and flu medicines and bed rest.

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