The common cold (cold) and influenza (the flu) are viral infections of the upper respiratory tract. They have many overlapping symptoms. Both are acute illnesses, highly contagious and spread by respiratory droplets; and affect people of all ages.

Learning objectives

After reading this article, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Discuss the different symptoms of the common cold and influenza, and when referral is needed
  • Identify pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatment options for symptoms of the common cold and influenza
  • Discuss the evidence to support different preventative and treatment strategies commonly recommended for the common cold and influenza.

Competencies (2016) addressed: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1, 3.3, 3.5, 3.6.

Accreditation number: CAP1906A

Case scenario

Elaine, a 36-year-old woman, presents to the pharmacy to speak with the pharmacist. Two days ago she developed a sore throat, runny nose, cough and headache. Initially her cough was dry but now it sounds ’chesty’. As a busy working mother of three, Elaine would like some symptom relief. She is finding her sore throat and runny nose particularly bothersome. She asks if she is coming down with the ‘flu’. Elaine takes the contraceptive pill, but she has no other current medical conditions or allergies.

Test your knowledge on this article’s assessment questions here to earn up to 1.5 Group 2 CPD credits.