Cold or flu? What's the difference?

If you’re feeling under the weather this winter with a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose or other symptoms you might be struggling to tell if you’ve got a cold or if you have the flu. This can be because the two illnesses have very similar symptoms and are both common throughout the winter. For those of us who have had the flu, the difference can be clearer. However, if you haven’t how can you tell? To help, we explain the difference between a cold and the flu.  

To make it easier for you to be able to tell if you have a cold or the flu, here are the common symptoms of both:

Cold symptoms

  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Tickly throat
  • Cold symptoms develop gradually

Flu symptoms

  • Muscular aches
  • High temperature 38-40° C
  • Shivering
  • Lethargic with no energy (you may just want to stay in bed!)
  • Flu symptoms develop abruptly

Cold or flu symptom checker tool

Feeling under the weather? Try the LloydsPharmacy Flu vs Cold symptom checker

Dealing with winter illnesses

You can find some tips for dealing with common winter illnesses from the NHS on their winter health risks page