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

Wednesday 27 December 2017 - forpatient



In the face of an established flu state, the course of action is on a case-by-case basis and includes individual measures to limit the spread of the disease, combined with individualized treatment.

In its classical benign form, flu only requires symptomatic treatment: first of all, rest and good hydration with a treatment adapted to the symptoms encountered.

In the case of chronic pathologies such as diabetes or heart failure, for example, an adaptation of the basic treatment may be necessary, in particular the prescription of antivirals (which are effective if prescribed within the first 48 hours of onset of clinical signs).

The treatment is defined by the doctor. 


Simple measures can reduce the risk of transmitting the flu virus. Basic notions of hygiene appear to be essential, especially washing hands. Cleaning can be done either with soap and water or with a hydro-alcoholic solution by rubbing for 20 to 30 seconds for a more efficient cleaning.

The main means of preventing flu is vaccination. The World Health Organization recommends annual vaccination for - in order of priority -:

  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy,

  • Children from 6 months to 5 years,

  • Seniors (≥65 years old),

  • Subject suffering from chronic conditions,

  • Health workers.

The medical consultation is therefore essential in the face of any flu-like syndrome, especially when faced with certain more alarming signs:

  • Belonging to a higher-risk group (cited above),

  • Intense symptoms such as a sore throat that lasts more than 2 days, with a swollen throat, a nose that has been runny for more than 10 days with colored secretions, pain in the face or an intense headache, cough that persists for more than a week with mucus production,

  • High fever (above 38.5°C or reappears 4 to 14 days later),

  • Difficult breathing.

It is highly recommended to seek medical advice. Only the doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe appropriate treatment.


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