Is it a cold or the flu? Easy ways to tell the difference.

How do you tell the difference between the cold and the flu?

Cold and flu season is here, and the 2017/18 Flu Vaccination program has officially started. While many common colds have already started to make their appearances this fall, the flu season doesn’t typically start until later in November. Since the flu and the cold are so similar it is important to recognize the differences. This way, we can take care of ourselves and our families properly. The Government of Canada released this easy chart to help distinguish cold and flu symptoms.

Symptom Cold Flu
Fever Rare Usual, high fever (39-40C), sudden onset, lasts 3-4 days
Headache Rare Usual, can be severe
General aches and pains Sometimes, mild Usual, often severe
Tired and weak Sometimes, mild Usual, may last 2-3 weeks or more
Extreme fatigue Unusual Usual, early onset
Runny, stuffy nose Common Common
Sneezing Common Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Common
Chest discomfort, coughing Sometimes, mild to moderate Usual, can be severe
Complications Can lead to sinus congestion or ear ache Can lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure; can worsen a current chronic respiratory condition; can be life threatening


There are other symptoms to watch for in children: not eating or drinking enough, difficulty walking, not interacting, irritability, not wanting to play or be held.

You can ease the discomfort these symptoms cause with over the counter medications. Our Pharmacists can offer recommendations for you. You can treat your sickness by staying home and getting lots of rest. In some circumstances however, you should see a doctor to make sure the flu doesn’t progress into something more severe.

Our Pharmacists are always on hand to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Please come by, or call us at 403.291.0076

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