Flu symptoms can come on suddenly,1 and early signs of the flu can be similar to those of a cold. Knowing the difference between a cold and the flu means you have a better chance of finding the right treatment to beat the flu sooner.
Colds do not usually require any specific measures beyond taking over-the-counter medications to help ease symptoms, and you can normally get these from your local pharmacy.
See if you can guess who has the flu and who just has a cold below…
Age: 42 years old
Fever (developed suddenly), weakness, stuffy nose
CHLOE has the flu
Chloe's fever developed suddenly, which is a strong sign of the flu.
Age: 17 years old
Moderate cough (developed slowly), sneezing
DAVID has a cold
David's cough was slow to develop which is indicative of a cold, rather than the flu.
Age: 5 years old
Runny nose, sore throat, diarrhoea
JANICE has the flu
While a runny nose and sore throat could be signs of a cold, Janice is also suffering from diarrhoea – a symptom of the flu that’s especially common in children.
Age: 71 years old
Body aches, headache, cough
MR. TAN has the flu
While Mr. Tan’s cough could be a sign of both the flu and a cold, his body aches and headache suggest he’s got the flu.
Suspect the flu? Call or visit your doctor as soon as possible
If you feel ill with some or all of the symptoms listed above, and you suspect the flu, speak to your doctor as soon as possible to confirm a diagnosis.
Beat the flu without leaving your home
If getting to a clinic is inconvenient, you can now speak to a doctor at home via a telemedicine provider.
Doctor World, an independent medical service, connects you to Singapore-licensed GPs any time or place via a secure mobile app. The 24/7 consultation service includes delivery of medicine within 3 hours, and issuance of an electronic medical certificate for eligible patients.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Flu symptoms and complications. Available from: www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/symptoms.htm. Last accessed: February 2020.
- Banning M. Br J Nurs 2005; 14(22): 1192–1197.