I have the flu! No….that’s just a cold!

cold and flu

POV: Healthcare worker

We all have that friend or family member who says: “arrrgh! I’m sick I have the flu” and we are thinking really do you? or is it a cold?

Let us explain why it’s important to know the difference!

It’s not uncommon for us to fall ill with a runny nose, itchy throat, and pesky cough at least once in the year, especially during the colder months. But how do we know if our symptoms are caused by a common cold or a more serious influenza virus?

Colds and flus are both viral respiratory illnesses, but different viruses cause them. Both can have similar symptoms such as the ones listed above, making it difficult to tell the difference(*). While a cold will usually pass in a few days, the flu is a lot more severe and can be more serious for a number of different people.

For children under 5 and adults over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with compromised health conditions such as diabetes, lung or heart disease, the flu can result in hospitalization or worse.

Most people can recover from the flu within a week, although a cough may linger for a week or so after.

Serious complications from the flu are more common for people in the groups mentioned, such as pneumonia, inflammation of the muscle and neurologic complications.

Vaccination and good hand and respiratory hygiene practices (such as frequent hand washing, covering sneezes and coughs with elbow/disposable tissues and MASK WEARING) are the best preventions for the flu and its complications bring.

Getting a vaccination, known as the “flu shot”, is very important. It builds immunity to the virus and helps prevent transmission to other people. It is extremely important for the following people who are more at risk of complications from influenza and are eligible for annual influenza vaccination free under the National Immunisation Program:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
  • Children aged 6 months to under 5 years
  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
  • People aged 65 years or over.
  • People aged 6 months or over who have medical conditions that mean they have a higher risk of getting a serious disease:

Your local GP, here at Medical on Burleigh, is able to offer you your flu shot.

If you or your loved ones haven’t received your vaccination this year, contact us to book an appointment. Your GP will also be able to provide any extra information regarding the vaccination you may require, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Knowing why your flu shot is important to you and your loved ones is the first step to protecting yourself and the community from influenza virus each year.

And please remember…”just a cough” can still be Covid – you’ll still need to head to Burleigh Cove Respiratory Clinic to be seen in person.