Colds and Flu can have very similar symptoms and it can be very difficult to tell the difference, especially in the beginning and both illnesses are caused by viruses. Unfortuately there is no medicine that can cure these infections so it is up to your body's immune system to help you get well again.
Both a cold and the flu can give you symptoms like a cough, sore throat, fever, headache, tiredness, a runny or blocked nose and watery eyes. A cold should only last for about a week, with some people experiencing a dry cough that can last a little longer. If you're experiencing additional symptoms like body aches and pains, an upset tummy or chills, then you might have the flu.
The flu is a more serious illness that comes on quite quickly and can cause serious complications such as pneumonia. People who have flu are sick for longer, often for weeks and may require a stay in hospital. The elderly and people with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to the flu and its more serious complications.
If you think you have influenza see your doctor immediately because there are medicines specifically available to prevent the virus from worsening but they have to be taken within two days of the symptoms appearing. These medicines are not funded.
Immunisation is the best protection
Prevention is the best medicine for influenza and you can get the influenza vaccine or ‘flu jab’ at our pharmacy. Pharmacists can vaccinate people 13 years and over and we now have the same funding as the doctors, so if your jab is usually free at your doctor it should be free with us too. Flu jabs are usually available from late April or the beginning of May each year with vaccinations continuing throughout the winter season. It is important to get your flu jab every year, because the flu strains likely to affect New Zealanders change every year.
As soon as you feel unwell, talk to your pharmacist for advice. They may refer you to a doctor if needed, and there are medicines that can help reduce the symptoms of the cold and influenza.