Colds and Flu: Signs, Symptoms and Remedies
- Cold and flu symptoms can be similar, but they are different infections.
- Colds mainly affect the nose and throat.
- Flu symptoms usually start suddenly with a high fever and tend to make the body ache.
If you are experiencing cold and flu symptoms we encourage you to practice good hygiene (washing hands for 20 seconds with warm water, and cleaning between fingers and under nails) and physical distancing to help slow the spread of germs. If you are experiencing symptoms of fever, coughing, sore throat or shortness of breath you should seek medical advice from a doctor (including pathology testing) and stay at home (not go to school or work).
Signs and symptoms of colds and flu
Even though the symptoms for colds and flu can be similar, there are some differences. The following are symptoms that you may experience when you have a cold or the flu.
- Body aches
- Dry cough
- A sore throat
- A runny nose
- Feeling very weak and tired
- A blocked or runny nose
- A sore throat
- Muscle aches
- A raised temperature (uncommon)
Causes of colds and flu
Colds and flu are caused by seasonal viruses, and are spread by coughs and sneezes, infecting people who are exposed with the viruses.
What to avoid
To avoid catching a cold or flu practice good hygiene and avoid close contact with someone who is showing symptoms. Try not to touch your eyes or nose or mouth, as these are entry points for infections. Don’t share towels, or household items like cups or food utensils.
If you’re exhibiting symptoms, you should see a doctor. When it comes to colds and flu, healthcare professionals recommend you steer clear of antibiotics, as they do not relieve symptoms, nor speed up recovery. They are only effective against bacterial infections, not viral infections such as colds and flu. See your doctor if your symptoms are severe or last longer than usual.
How to relieve the symptoms of colds and flu
There are several ways you can help relieve cold and flu symptoms, including:
- Get plenty of rest
- Take ibuprofen or paracetamol to lower your temperature and to relieve any pains and/or aches
- Drink plenty of water
- To relieve a sore throat, gargle warm salty water
For a preventative approach, get the flu vaccine from your GP before the start of the flu season to reduce your risk of contracting flu and spreading it. Keep in mind that having the influenza vaccine will not prevent you from getting colds, as colds are caused by different viruses.
When to seek medical help
Colds may make ongoing medical conditions worse. See your doctor if this situation relates to you.
See a doctor if your symptoms appear suddenly, are severe or last longer than usual.
See your doctor for advice if you have fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath.
This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health-related matters, always consult your healthcare professional.
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