The flu and colds both share many symptoms, meaning it can be difficult to tell the common winter illnesses apart.
These include a sore throat, headache and stuffy, runny nose.
However, while both are respiratory infections, catching the flu can be far more serious than having a cold.
The former can prove fatal, with the Aussie flu causing dozens of deaths and leaving thousands hospitalised.
For this reason it is important to be able to tell the difference people can seek the correct medical attention – here are three ways.
While it may be a sign of both, the type of cough you experience can indicate whether it is flu or a cold.
If it’s a dry, hacking cough – meaning short, dry and frequent – then you are likely to have flu.
Length of symptoms
Colds tend to come on gradually over the space of a few days.
They then usually clear up within seven to ten days.
However, flu symptoms are much more severe and generally come on more quickly.
Additionally, you can remain ill for up to two weeks.
A cold rarely gives off a temperature that’s above 38.3 C – the point at which you should seek medical attention – however the flu can trigger an initial fever.
However, not everyone with flu will develop a high temperature.
Other flu symptoms that can differentiate it from a cold include severe muscle or body aches, shaking chills, severe fatigue that can last for two weeks, and nausea and vomiting in children.
Colds usually clear up on their own, and it is recommended sufferers drink plenty of fluids.
According to research published in 2013, vitamin C won’t prevent a cold but taking it consistently can lessen symptoms.
You should see a doctor if your cold hasn’t improved within a week, if you have a fever and if your fever doesn’t go down.
If you have the flu you should also drink plenty of fluids.
Certain groups are at risk of serious complications if they catch the flu, such as the elderly, children or those with chronic diseases, and they should have medical attention if they get it.