The flu and cold are respiratory infections. Because they have similar symptoms, they’re often confused. However, a cold is more prevalent and banal than the flu. Flu, in turn, can be very dangerous.

Symptoms

Symptoms and their severity may vary with age and health status.

Comparison of flu and cold symptoms
SymptomsFluCold

Fever

  • Common
  • Temperatures between 38 °C and 40 °C (between 100,4 °F and 104 °F)
  • Sudden onset
  • Absent or mild

Cough

  • Common
  • Sudden onset
  • Common
  • Mild or moderate

Headache

  • Common
  • Sometimes intense
  • Rare

Aches and pains

  • Common
  • Sometimes intense
  • Rare
  • Mild

Fatigue

  • Common
  • Intense
  • Duration: A few days, sometimes longer
  • Common
  • Mild

Nausea and vomiting

  • Common in children
  • Rare in adults
  • Often accompanied by diarrhea and abdominal pain in children
  • Rare
  • Mild

Runny nose or nasal congestion

  • Rare, more common in children
  • Common

Sneezing

  • Rare
  • Common

Sore throat

  • Common
  • Common

If You Have Symptoms

You may contact a nurse with questions anytime at Info-Santé 811.

In case of flu

Should you have symptoms of the flu, see the Flu (Influenza) page for helpful advice on how to treat yourself.