Cold and Flu

The common cold

A variety of different relatively harmless viruses, such as the rhinovirus, cause the common cold. A cold is a minor respiratory infection.

Cold symptoms

Colds affect the upper respiratory system. While cold symptoms vary, they can include nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, itchy throat, watery eyes and fatigue.

Treating a cold

While there is no cure for a cold, the following can provide comfort:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids (soups, water, juice)
  • Rest
  • Soothing your throat with a saltwater gargle
  • Over-the-counter medications, including decongestants, antihistamines and nasal sprays may provide some relief
  • ASPIRIN® can help relieve the pain and fever of a cold

Cold complications

The normal recovery time for a cold is a week or two. Symptoms usually subside on their own, but in some cases colds lead to secondary infections, such as ear or sinus infections. Check with your doctor if your symptoms worsen. If you have a fever and body aches, you may have the flu.

The flu

Influenza, also known as "the flu," is a respiratory infection that’s usually more severe than a cold. It’s caused by the highly contagious influenza virus.

Flu Symptoms

Symptoms of influenza almost always include cough and fever, and can also include sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, weakness, decreased appetite and runny nose. In some cases people also experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Treating a Flu

Treatment for the flu usually includes:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids (soups, water, juice)
  • Rest
  • Medication

If your flu symptoms are severe, your doctor may prescribe a prescription antiviral medication. Antiviral medications are most effective when taken soon after symptoms first start (within 48 hours). If you think you may have the flu, and/or your flu symptoms worsen, see your doctor.

ASPIRIN® can provide comfort by relieving the pain and fever of a cold and flu.

Flu Complications

The normal recovery time for influenza is a week to ten days. If you are pregnant, over 65, have other chronic or serious medical conditions or are looking after a young child with the flu, seek medical attention immediately. People in these groups are at a greater risk for flu complications and secondary infections such as pneumonia.

Read tips on staying healthy during cold and flu season