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Colds and flu (influenza) are both illnesses that affect your respiratory system, causing congestion and coughing.1 Colds and flu may have similar symptoms, but they are caused by different viruses.1


Here are a few easy ways to spot the difference between a common cold and flu.

Cold Flu
Usually affects the upper respiratory tract (nose & throat)2 Usually affects the upper & lower respiratory tract (nose, throat & lungs)3
Symptoms develop slowly3 Symptoms can develop suddenly3
Symptoms may include coughing, sneezing, congestion (stuffy nose) or runny nose2 Symptoms may include coughing, sneezing, congestion (stuffy nose) or runny nose, fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches & fatigue3
Lasts around 7 to 10 days2 Lasts around 3 to 7 days, but some symptoms may last for 2 weeks or longer4
Did you know? Colds are typically milder than flu and are very common.1,2 As an adult, you can expect to have a cold 2 or 3 times a year.2

What causes colds and flu?

Colds and flu are both caused by germs known as viruses.1 Someone who has a cold or the flu can easily pass the virus on to others.2,3


Note: Colds and flu are more likely to affect you during the winter months.6

Treating the symptoms of colds and flu

You can relieve your symptoms with various over-the-counter medications.7 For example, a mucolytic medication will help to reduce a wet cough and mucus congestion, by breaking down excess mucus and phlegm so it’s easier to get rid of.8,9


If your symptoms keep getting worse, see your doctor for medical attention.2,3

Preventing the spread of colds and flu

Getting your annual flu vaccination can help to protect you against getting the flu and reduce your risk of serious symptoms.3 There is no vaccine available for the common cold.2

Avoiding people with colds or flu isn’t always possible, especially as many people become contagious before their symptoms start appearing.3 However, good hygiene and healthy habits can help to protect you against these viruses.2

  1. CDC. Cold versus flu. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020. Accessed June 14, 2021.
  2. Common cold - symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Accessed June 14, 2021. toms- causes/syc-20351605.
  3. Influenza (flu) - symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Accessed June 14, 2021. 20351719.
  4. How long do flu symptoms last? Get the facts. Healthline. 2018. Accessed August 4, 2021.
  5. CDC. COVID-19 and your health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020. Accessed August 19, 2021.
  6. Price RHM, Graham C, Ramalingam S. Association between viral seasonality and meteorological factors. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):929.
  7. Cold remedies: what works, what doesn’t. Mayo Clinic. Accessed August 4, 2021. depth/cold-remedies/art-20046403.
  8. Kryukov AI, Turovsky AB, Izotova GN, et al. Treatment of acute sinusitis. Russian Medical Journal. 2012;9:485-488.
  9. Zaitseva OV. Rational choice of mucolytic therapy in treatment of respiratory diseases in children. Russian Medical Journal. 2009;17(19):1217-1221.
Sidebar References
  1. Sandoz SA (Pty) Ltd. ACC® 600 Professional information. V1.0 (02/11/2021), approved 26 October 2021 (oral powder) and 02 November 2021 (effervescent tablets).
  2. Sandoz SA (Pty) Ltd. ACC® 20 mg/ml ORAL SOLUTION Professional information. V1 (07/10/2021), approved 05 October 2021.
  3. Sandoz SA (Pty) Ltd. ACC® 200 Professional information. V10 (16/08/2022), approved 08 July 2020.


[S1] ACC® 20 mg/ml Oral Solution. Reg. No.: 48/10.3/0261. Composition: Each 1 ml of ACC 20 mg/ml ORAL SOLUTION contains 20 mg acetylcysteine. ATC Code: R05C B01.

[S1] ACC® 200 (effervescent tablets). Reg. No.: 29/10.2.2/0753. Composition: Each ACC 200 effervescent tablet contains: 200 mg acetylcysteine. Pharmacological Classification: A10.3 Medicines acting on the respiratory system – other.

[S1] ACC® 600 (effervescent tablets). Reg. No.: 45/10.3/0229. Composition: Each effervescent tablet contains 600 mg acetylcysteine. [S1] ACC® 600 ORAL POWDER. Reg. No.: 51/10.3/0816. Composition: Each sachet contains 600 mg of acetylcysteine. ATC Code: R05CB01.

For full prescribing information refer to the Sandoz Professional Information approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).

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