Flu or cold?

You don’t feel so good. Your nose is sniffling and you cough a little. People quickly say that they have a ‘flu’, but that is not correct. Most of the time it is a cold, but it is wrongly labeled as flu. This article discusses the differences between flu and a cold. This may help to eliminate confusion between these two infections.


Flu is caused by the influenza virus. The infection passes through the respiratory tract. Flu causes significant symptoms, such as high fever, sore throat, severe fatigue and aches all over the body. Flu also causes significant mortality every year. Every year, 80,000 Dutch people get the flu. During an epidemic, approximately 1,000 to 2,000 people in the Netherlands die directly from flu or the consequences of this virus. This mainly happens in the risk groups. These include older people and people with Diabetes Mellitus and heart and lung diseases.
The risk groups can get a flu shot. This protects them to a large extent against infection, but provides no guarantee. Due to mutations in the virus, new flu viruses arise every year that are not included in the vaccine. It is therefore not possible to build up complete immunity against this.
In principle, no treatment is required for flu. The body can eventually find a solution against the infection itself. It is important to prevent disease properly. People with a defect in immunity, such as humans and AIDS, do need treatment. They cannot fight the virus themselves.


A cold is caused by an infection by a virus. This infection takes place in the nose and throat. Symptoms may include sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing, headache, fatigue. In some cases you also suffer from red, itchy eyes. It is the most common infection in humans. It occurs in adults about 2 to 4 times a year, and children can catch a cold as many as 12 times a year. This would lead you to suspect that no immunity can be built up for this virus, but that is not true. However, there are hundreds of different cold viruses, so each time you are infected with a new virus.
Contrary to popular belief, colds cannot be caused by the cold. Much research has been done into this, but no connection has ever been found. So you always have to come into contact with the virus to catch a cold. It has been shown that colds are more common in the cold months than in the warm months.
In principle, no medication is required for a cold. This will go away on its own. It is advisable to take it easy and stay warm. If you have a stuffy nose, you can use a nasal spray. Paracetamol can also provide some relief.

Flu or cold?

How can you recognize that you have the flu or a cold? There are a number of clearly recognizable differences. First of all, the symptoms of a cold start gradually, while with flu they start acutely, within 3 hours. With flu you have a fever, a high temperature that sometimes rises to 40 to 41 degrees. When you have a cold you usually do not experience a fever. If you have the flu, your whole body is affected. This mainly involves muscle pain and jumping pains. These are very intense. If you have a cold, you will have little or no trouble with it. Fatigue and general malaise (not feeling well) are very noticeable with flu, while this is only mildly experienced with a cold. With both infections you will suffer from a sore throat. With flu you have a very red throat. When you have a cold, in addition to a sore throat, you also suffer from a runny nose or sniffling. You also suffer from coughing with both infections. However, with flu this is a dry cough, while with a cold a productive cough occurs (you cough up phlegm). Finally, with the flu you also suffer from chills. This does not bother you if you have a cold.