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Cold and Flu Symptoms

You’re sick. You’re tired. You’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. A classic tale. But do you have a cold or the flu? How will you know which cold and flu remedies are right for you?

We’re here to help you tell the difference between cold and flu symptoms.

Man with flu symptoms taking his temperature

Whats the difference between cold and flu symptoms?

Both the common cold and the flu (influenza) are respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Their symptoms can be very similar, making it hard to tell what you may be suffering from. Here’s a general list of cold and flu symptoms:


  • Gradually building symptoms over 48 hours
  • Symptoms last 3-10 days
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Coughing
  • Sinus pain
  • Sore, irritated throat


  • Sudden onset of symptoms
  • Symptoms are severe in nature
  • Symptoms last hours or linger for weeks
  • Sudden weakness and fatigue
  • Fever and chills
  • Body aches and pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • General ‘unwell’ feeling 
  • Sore, irritated throat

What causes a cold?

Colds are transmitted by infected airborne particles (sneezing, coughing) or by direct contact with infected secretions like coughing into your hand then shaking hands with someone. There are more than 200 viruses that cause colds, though the most common is rhinovirus, causing up to 40% of colds in adults. 

What causes the flu?

The flu is caused by the influenza virus, infecting the nose, throat and less often the lungs. The virus is spread through tiny droplets made when infected people cough or sneeze, which then travel into the nose and mouth of uninfected people nearby. You can also contract the flu by touching a surface holding the virus, then touching your mouth, nose or even your eyes. 

Image of common cold virus

There are more than 200 viruses that cause colds, though the most common is rhinovirus, causing up to 40% of colds in adults.

Cold and Flu Remedies

Cold and flu symptom relief comes in many forms. Because they are both viral infections, antibiotics are not necessary or included in cold and flu remedies. Over-the-counter medications that are proven to treat cold and flu symptoms include:

  • Decongestants: Used to treat nasal congestion, decongestants shrink inflamed blood vessels in the nasal passage. Typical ingredients include pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine. 
  • Acetaminophen: Found in many cold and flu medications, acetaminophen treats pain and is a great fever remedy.
  • NSAIDS: Aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen are all NSAIDS used to treat inflammation and pain. NSAIDS are another fever remedy.

There is some evidence to suggest natural cold and flu remedies are also effective, but none have been scientifically proven. For example:

  • Zinc: High doses are said to shorten the length of colds if taken within 24-hours of showing symptoms.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the length and severity of cold and flu symptoms.
  • Vitamin D: The sunshine vitamin facilitates normal immune system function, helping to protect against colds and flus. 

Recommended Buckley’s Products

Cold and flu symptoms can be nasty, but these Buckley’s products provide cold and flu symptom relief, meaning you can feel better and get on with your day. 

Buckley's Complete

Box of Buckley's Complete
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Fever & Chills
  • Sore Throat Pain
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Sinus Congestion
  • Body Aches and Pain

Buckley’s Complete + Mucus Relief 24 Hour Pack Liquid Gels – Day/Night

Box of  Buckley's Complete + Mucus Liquid Gels – Day/Night
  • Sore Throat Pain & Dry Cough
  • Sinus & Nasal Congestion
  • Minor Aches & Pain
  • Fever & Chills
  • Headache
  • Mucus & Phlegm
  • Runny Nose & Sneezing
  • Itchy & Watery Eyes

When to See a Doctor

Colds typically clear up within 7 to 10 days, and flus on average last 1-2 weeks. Colds can lead to more serious respiratory infections and flus can result in death in people with weakened immune systems. See a doctor if:

  • Your cold lasts over a week
  • You start to get a high fever that doesn’t go down
  • You have allergies
  • You have a nagging cough that lasts longer than a week
  • You have trouble breathing or chest pain
  • You are vomiting and can’t eat or drink for a few days
  • It really, really hurts to swallow