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? Everyone can be touched by these infections, 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.

Cold or flu? 9 ways to tell them apart


Severity of the symptoms

In general, a cold is a more banal, less serious infection than the flu. The latter can have more serious consequences like hospitalizations and even deaths.



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.



We may have a light to moderate cough with a cold. However, the cough will usually be more severe when it’s associated with a flu.

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 adapted to your health condition;
  • help you evaluate the gravity of the situation and direct you to the appropriate health care professional if necessary.

Your Brunet-affiliated pharmacy can offer vaccination by a nurse against the flu, under certain conditions. 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 immediately if you experience:

  • Fever that is increasing or persistent for the past 3 days;
  • Worsening or non-improving symptoms that have been present for more than 7 days;
  • Difficulty breathing that is worsening or not improving;
  • Blue lips;
  • Vomiting for more than 4 hours;
  • Intense chest or head pains;
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Confusion or convulsions;
  • Absence of urine for more than 12 hours;
  • A fever higher than 39°C (102.2°F) in a child;
  • Fever in a baby younger than 6 months old;

Consult your pharmacist for more information. He will be able to orient you toward the proper resource.


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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.
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