What are the symptoms
of the flu?

The flu symptom checker

Early symptoms of the flu come on suddenly and include:1,2

  • Fever
    (although not everyone with the flu will have a fever)
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Diarrhoea or vomiting
    (more common in children)

But everybody is different – some people will experience all of these symptoms, others only a few.1


Suspect the flu? Speak to your doctor and ask about flu antivirals to protect you or your loved ones from the flu and its complications.3

Did you know?
With telemedicine, it’s now possible to get in touch with your doctor and ask about antivirals without leaving your home.

orthe flu?

Is it COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of the flu, although they typically come on more gradually.1,2,4–6
They include:4,5

  • Shortness of breath
    (more common with COVID-19 than the flu)6
  • Persistent cough
  • Body aches
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Sore throat

Suspect COVID-19? Seek advice from your local health authority or speak to your healthcare team about whether you need to self-isolate and/or seek medical attention.

Is it a common cold?

Cold symptoms come on gradually. They include:1

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Mild/moderate cough
  • Sneezing

Colds do not usually require any specific measures beyond taking over-the-counter medications to help ease symptoms. You’ll find these at your local pharmacy.

See if you can guess who may have the flu, who may have COVID-19, and who may have a common cold.


Age: 5 years old

Symptoms include:
Runny nose, sore throat, diarrhoea

Santa may have the flu

While a runny nose and sore throat could be signs of a cold, Santa is also suffering from diarrhoea – a symptom of the flu that’s especially common in children. Santa’s parents should consult her doctor to confirm a diagnosis.


Age: 17 years old

Symptoms include:
Moderate cough (developed slowly), sneezing

Bikash May have a Common cold

Bikash's cough was slow to develop, which is indicative of a cold, rather than the flu. Bikash may wish to seek medical advice to rule out the flu or COVID-19.


Age: 42 years old

Symptoms include:
Fever (developed suddenly), weakness, stuffy nose

Joly May have the flu

Joly's fever developed suddenly, which is a strong sign of the flu. Joly should consult her doctor to confirm a diagnosis.


Age: 71 years old

Symptoms include:
Body aches, headache, cough

Labib May have the flu

While Labib’s cough could be a sign of both the flu and a cold, his body aches and headache suggest he’s got the flu. Labib should consult his doctor to confirm a diagnosis.


Age: 30 years old

Symptoms include:
Stuffy nose (developed slowly), mild cough (not persistent)

Lubna May have a Common Cold

As Lubna’s mild cough was not persistent, and her stuffy nose developed slowly, this suggests she has a common cold. Lubna may wish to seek medical advice to rule out the flu or COVID-19.


Age: 54 years old

Symptoms include:
Shortness of breath, persistent cough, tiredness

Sagor May have COVID-19

Sagor’s persistent cough and shortness of breath suggest he has COVID-19. Sagor should seek advice from his local health authority or speak to his healthcare team about whether he needs to self-isolate and/or seek medical attention.


Suspect the flu? Call or visit your doctor as soon as possible

Discover more about antiviral medications for the flu


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Flu symptoms and complications. Available from: www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/symptoms.htm. Last accessed: October 2020.
  2. Banning M. Br J Nurs 2005; 14(22): 1192–1197.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). What You Should Know About Influenza (Flu) Antiviral Drugs: Fact Sheet, 2018. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/updated/antiviral-factsheet-updated.pdf. Last accessed: October 2020.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 symptoms. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html. Last accessed: October 2020.
  5. World Health Organization. Coronavirus symptoms. Available from: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_3. Last accessed: October 2020.
  6. Medical News Today. New coronavirus vs. flu. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/coronavirus-vs-flu#symptoms. Last accessed: October 2020.