How to distinguish flu from colds: features of diagnosis and treatment

How to distinguish flu from colds: features of diagnosis and treatment

A health expert explained how cold and flu are different.

Do you feel that you start to get a cold or the flu and are not sure how to stop the disease? First of all, you should pay attention to the symptoms. It is important to be able to distinguish between conditions when your body can cope with a little help and remote medical advice, and when you need to go for If you see a specialist, the danger of a flu or a severe cold is complications that can even cost your life, so it’s important to recognize the disease in time and begin the necessary treatment.

The Ministry of Health’s Public Health Center has prepared an infographic that will help you recognize the symptoms of colds and flu. With its help, you will learn to better understand the symptoms and do not harm your health.

Sore throat can occur with flu and colds.
Sore throat can occur with flu and colds.

Disease onset

  • The common cold begins gradually. You may feel faint or low in temperature for several days.
  • Flu symptoms develop abruptly, almost instantly, with fever, eye pain, aching muscles, or chills. Usually you can clearly determine when the disease started.


  • The temperature can rise, usually remains at the level of 37-37.5 degrees.
  • The flu is characterized by a high temperature – from 38 degrees and above. This symptom manifests itself from the very beginning of the disease.

Manifestations of intoxication

  • During a cold, most often there is a feeling of weakness and “overwhelming”.
  • Aching, chills, headache and muscle pain accompany the flu from the onset of the disease.

Runny nose

  • Almost always accompanies a cold, from this a disease can begin.
  • Not a symptom characteristic of influenza, although it may occur on day 2-3 of the disease.


  • For colds, it is very pronounced, it can occur along with a sore throat.
  • Flu-specific sign. In this case, a cough can cause chest pain.

A sore throat

  • For colds, a symptom is very inherent, has a pronounced character.
  • It is not typical for flu; it may appear on the 3-4th day of illness.

Eye discomfort

  • During a cold, it does not occur often. But there may be a feeling of “sand” in the eyes, which is typical for adenovirus infection.
  • Tearing, redness of the eyes and photophobia are characteristic of the flu.

Shortness of breath, feeling of lack of air

  • During a cold, it can be felt relieved as the inability to fully breathe, but primarily through nasal congestion.
  • Such a symptom in influenza is associated with respiratory failure. If you feel it, you should definitely consult a doctor.
With influenza, the temperature rises

A few basic rules that you should remember if you get sick:

  • Usually a cold with mild symptoms is treated only with bed rest and heavy drinking for 3-5 days. The body may well cope with the virus itself.
  • Oseltamivir, zanamivir and baloxavir are used to treat the flu or the common cold, which occurs with severe symptoms, but only after the doctor has prescribed them.
  • Drugs that relieve sore throat or relieve cough do not have any evidence of effectiveness in treating these symptoms, but simply can relieve the condition for a short time.
  • Adults need to lower the temperature only when it is more than 38.5 degrees. For this, it is better to use paracetamol or ibuprofen and not exceed the dose of this medication.
  • Viral infections are not treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are prescribed only for bacterial diseases, when the causative agent of the disease is bacteria, for example, with bronchitis or pneumonia. But such drugs are prescribed only after a blood test and examination by a doctor.
  • Some symptoms are signals that staying home is life threatening. Call 103 immediately if you experience shortness of breath, skin rash, hemoptysis, bluish skin tone, vomiting and diarrhea, chest pain, decreased pressure, slow heart rate, arrhythmia, impaired consciousness or cramps.
  • “In any case, consult your doctor about the symptoms. He will help determine a further algorithm of action,” the acting Minister of Health advised.

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