Cold or flu? 9 ways to tell them apart


As soon as you feel the first symptoms, uncommon fatigue or a sore throat, you wonder, is it a cold or the flu? Either one will affect us, but it’s important to know the difference to get the proper treatment. It’s a good thing there are surefire ways to tell them apart.

Rhume ou grippe, savoir faire la difference


Colds are more frequent from fall to the end of spring, while the flu tends to hit in winter, especially from December to March or April.


It is very rare to experience fever with a cold. So, if you present a fever of 100.4–104°F or 38–40°C for three to four days, you’re probably suffering from the flu.


Vaccination is your best protection against the flu and its complications - Catherine Plamondon, Brunet's affiliated pharmacist-owner, Hemmingford and Lacolle branches.


Body aches

You can feel a little achy with a cold, but when your muscles feel stiff and painful, it’s probably the flu. These muscle aches will go away after three or four days.


A cold may make you feel a little more tired than usual, but the flu will present with intense and persistent fatigue for up to two or three weeks!

Stuffy and runny nose

If you’re feeling congested and your nose is constantly runny, you probably have a cold, as these symptoms are rather rare with the flu.


Very common with a cold, sneezing is not usually a symptom of the flu.

Sore throat

Sore throats are more often associated with cold symptoms and are rarely associated with the flu.


The congestion that comes with a cold can cause rare minor headaches. On the other hand, headaches are basically a given with the flu and can be very intense.

Chest pains

It is rare to feel chest pain with a cold. This is rather a symptom of the flu.

10. Did you know?

Whether you’re suffering from a cold or the flu, your pharmacist affiliated with Brunet is your best ally and can :

  • recommend over-the-counter medications to relieve your symptoms;
  • help you evaluate the gravity of the situation and direct you to the appropriate health care professional if necessary.

Brunet now offers vaccination against the flu. Make an appointment and get vaccinated at a participating Brunet-affiliated pharmacy at a time that suits you.

When should you consult a doctor?

Most people won’t need to consult a doctor for a cold or even the flu. However, those who are more vulnerable (older people, people with chronic illnesses, pregnant women, babies, etc.) must monitor their symptoms carefully and consult a doctor if need be.

Also, you should consult a doctor if you experience:

  • Pain or difficulty breathing;
  • Vomiting for more than 4 hours;
  • Confusion or convulsions;
  • A fever higher than 38°C (100.4°F) in a child under two years old;
  • Fever in a baby younger than 3 months old;
  • If your child seems very sick, is listless and has trouble staying awake.


Read more on the subject

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Le vaccin contre la grippe

Flu vaccine

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Prendre soin de son nez pour se sentir mieux!

Take care of your nose and breathe easy!

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