Have I got

the flu?

Flu symptoms can come on suddenly,1 and early signs of the flu are often confused with those of a cold. Knowing the difference between a cold and the flu can help speed up the treatment process and aid a quick recovery. 


Symptoms checker

Here are the early flu symptoms to look out for:1,2

  • Fever of 38°C - 40°C
    (although not everyone with the flu will have a fever)
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
    (more common in children)

Of course, everybody is different, and while some people with the flu will get all of these symptoms, others might only experience a few.1

Cold

or the flu?

Unlike those associated with the flu, cold symptoms come on gradually. They include:1

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Mild/moderate cough
  • Sneezing

Colds do not usually require any specific measures beyond taking over-the-counter medications to help ease symptoms,  and you can normally get these from your local pharmacy.

See if you can guess who has the flu and who just has a cold below…

Chloe

Age: 5 years old

Symptoms include:
Runny nose, sore throat, diarrhoea

Chloe has the flu

While a runny nose and sore throat could be signs of a cold, Chloe is also suffering from diarrhea – a symptom of the flu that’s especially common in children.

David

Age: 17 years old

Symptoms include:
Moderate cough (slow to develop), fatigue

David has a cold

David's cough was slow to develop which is indicative of a cold, rather than the flu.

Janice

Age: 42 years old

Symptoms include:
Fever (developed suddenly),weakness, stuffy nose

Janice has the flu

Janice’s fever developed suddenly, which is a strong sign of the flu.

Mr. Tan

Age: 71 years old

Symptoms include:
Body aches, headaches, cough

Mr. Tan has the flu

While Mr. Tan’s cough could be a sign of both the flu and a cold, his body aches and headaches suggest he’s got the flu.

Suspect the flu? Speak to your doctor

If you feel ill with some or all of the symptoms listed above, and you suspect the flu, speak to your doctor as soon as possible to confirm a diagnosis.

Treatments are available to protect you from the flu and its complications. These include a specific type of treatment called antiviral flu medications.3

Discover more about antiviral medications  for the flu

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu Symptoms & Complications, 2018. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/symptoms.htm Last accessed: February 2019.
  2. Banning M. Br J Nurs 2005; 14(22): 1192–1197.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Treatment. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/treatment.htm Last accessed: February 2019.