Sinus Cold & flu Aching Joints

Flu Symptoms & Treatments

Written By Thomas Seager B.Pharm (Hons)

11 April 2021

woman on couch with tissues and cold

What is the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu?

A common misconception is that a cold and the flu are the same. However, this is not the case. Whilst the common cold is often mild and non-life threatening, the flu is a much more serious virus with potentially life-threatening complications, especially for the elderly.

What are Common Flu Symptoms vs Common Cold Symptoms?

The table below shows the difference in symptoms between the common cold and the flu:



Flu (Influenza A)







Runny Nose


Some of the time 



Some of the time

Sore Throat 






Aches and Pains




Some of the time


How to Avoid the Flu

As Influenza A is highly infectious, it is important to follow proper hygiene procedures to reduce the spread of infection. These procedures include coughing into a tissue or into your elbow, regularly washing your hands with soapy water and using hand sanitiser. You may also wear a mask to protect others, especially if you need to visit a doctor. Whilst proper hygiene is a great defence against the spread of the flu, our greatest tool is the yearly vaccine. It is important that everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated does get vaccinated.

More information about flu vaccinations can be foundhere.

Potential Complications

The following groups are typically more vulnerable to complications if they get the flu. This can be due to a weaker immune system or a current health condition.

  • Adults Aged 65+
  • Pregnant Women
  • Children Aged Under 5 (especially those Under 2)
  • People with chronic illnesses, particularly heart, lung or kidney disease or asthma

The Australian Government has aNational Immunisation Program (NIP) which allows GPs to provide free vaccinations to these groups (and others). It is important that you contact the location you wish to be vaccinated at to check availability and eligibility criteria.

Tips for Recovery

  • You can use some pain relief medication such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to reduce muscle ache, headache and to bring down fever. Ask your pharmacist or doctor before using pain relief medication if you are on other medications.
  • Resting whilst sick will help with recovery. Avoid going to work to reduce the chance of infecting others.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids while ill will help prevent dehydration and give you the best chance of recovery
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone under the age of 18 as it can be associated with Reye's syndrome. This is a serious condition which can affect the brain and liver.
  • Using a cough expectorant (a type of medication that can help break down mucus) if you are having difficulty coughing up phlegm
  • You can talk with your doctor about the possibility of using an antiviral medication
  • You can use cough and cold medication which is recommended by a pharmacist or a doctor
  • Remember, if your symptoms persist or continue to get worse, it is important to seek medical attention

How Your Pharmacist Can Help

Your friendly Star Discount Chemist pharmacist can help provide treatments and advice to prevent or ease cold and flu symptoms. It is important to also check with your trusted GP if you have a pre-existing health condition or are already taking medication.

Our Star Discount Chemist stores offer flu shots which are administered by specially qualified professionals to help protect you during the flu season. Contact your local store to check availability


Thomas Seager B.Pharm (Hons)

Written by Thomas Seager B.Pharm (Hons)

Thomas Seager is the Pharmacist Manager at Star Discount Chemist Prospect. He holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy (with Honours) from the University of South Australia. Thomas went into Pharmacy because of his desire to help people better understand their medicines and positively contribute to the health and well-being of his community. Thomas enjoys being on the front line of health care helping his patients and having a good old chat.

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