What is the difference between a COLD and a FLU?

A Cold and Flu share similar symptoms, however, the severity or likelihood of these symptoms vary.

Individuals with a Cold rarely or occasionally experience a fever. They may have a headache which is not severe.  Muscle aches, if experienced, are often mild. Fatigue can occur but is rare. Sneezing and nasal congestion is very common. And cough and chest discomfort is often mild to moderate.

Flu symptoms are immediately recognized by a high fever (39-40 degrees Celsius), which can last for 3 to 4 days.  Headaches are very common and can be quite severe.  Muscle aches are also common and can also be severe.  Fatigue is quite pronounced and can last for 2 to 3 weeks. Sneezing and nasal congestion is not common but may occur. And cough and chest discomfort is common and unfortunately, can be severe.

You may find that your doctor will not prescribe anything for the cold or flu.  In this case, the physician feels that the illness is due to a virus and not bacteria. If the symptoms are determined to be caused by bacteria then an antibiotic will be prescribed. If the doctor still prescribes an antibiotic due to a viral infection, the physician is doing so to prevent a secondary infection (bacterial) that may occur from a weakened immune system caused by the viral infection.

Faisal Kabir, BScPhm. RPh.
Pharmacy Manager


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