Many people think flu is just a very bad cold, but in fact the two illnesses are completely different. Some of the symptoms of flu and colds are similar, but flu can be a serious illness while a cold just involves a few days of feeling under the weather.1
These are the main ways you can tell the difference, although not everyone will have the same symptoms.
You suddenly feel unwell and develop a high temperature
You may be shivering or sweating
You get aches and pains in your muscles
You feel exhausted, needing to lie down
You may have a chesty cough
Your symptoms last for around a week, but the tiredness can last longer
Your symptoms come on gradually
You develop a runny and/or blocked nose
You are sneezing and may have a sore throat
You may develop a cough
The worst of the symptoms can last for 1-2 days
After a few days, you feel distinctly better
Source: NHS Choices website
If caught quickly (within 48 hours), flu can be treated with the risk of serious complications reduced. Even if you’ve had your symptoms for 48 hours or more, it’s still important that you get advice from a healthcare professional.
Where can I get more advice on treating my symptoms?
You can visit NHS Choices at www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Flu/Pages/Treatment.aspx for the NHS advice on treating flu. If any of your symptoms are severe, if they get worse or if they have not improved after one week you should contact your doctor’s surgery.