Is it Cold or Flu? Basic guidelines to distinguish them

Flu and the common cold are both respiratory infections caused by viruses. Generally, flu is more serious than the common cold, with symptoms being more harmful.

Flu (influenza) is the infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by the influenza viruses. These viruses are contagious especially to young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses who are vulnerable to severe infection and even death.

Unlike other temperate weather countries, a tropical country like Malaysia has its peak seasons for influenza infection which are normally between October to January and April to June with year long infection.

The easiest way to differentiate flu from the common cold is by looking at your child’s symptoms.

  1. Symptoms of flu

Flu is normally accompanied by fever or feeling feverish, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, tiredness, vomiting and diarrhoea.

2.Symptoms of a common cold

The common cold normally comes with sore throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, headaches and body aches.

Flu and the common cold can also be differentiated based on the frequency of its occurrence. The common cold often infects an individual at a time and this can happen several times in a year. On the contrary, flu is an epidemic affecting lots of people at one time.

The severity of the infection can also help differentiate them. The common cold usually comes with milder symptoms and clears up within 7 to 10 days. Nevertheless, please immediately consult a doctor if your child’s cold has not improved after about a weeks or he has a persistent fever. Some people who get flu can develop complications such as pneumonia which can be life-threatening.

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