The Cold vs. the Flu!

As the Fall season transitions to winter, you most likely have gotten a bad cold or the flu. The most common sickness in this country is the common cold that still remains without a cure. The “common cold,” however is quite different from the “flu.” But how do we differentiate between the two?

For the typical cold, symptoms usually last about a week and can leave you feeling rather miserable. Common symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Itchy/watery eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches

“Rhinoviruses, which include more than 100 serotypes, are the most common viruses associated with cold symptoms, and collectively cause 30 to 50 percent of colds. Viruses with marked seasonal variation, such as influenza and parainfluenza, typically cause more systemic symptoms than other cold viruses; however, they also cause illnesses compatible with the common cold. Influenza virus causes about 5 to 15 percent of colds, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and parainfluenza virus are each responsible for about 5 percent,” (The common cold. Heikkinen T, Järvinen A and Understanding the symptoms of the common cold and influenza. Eccles R).

Colds CAN NOT  be treated with antibiotics. The best cure is to let it run its course. But to speed things up, drink plenty of water and get a good amount of sleep. One of the best remedies is to stay well-hydrated. Weather it is drinking plain water or chicken broth, hydration helps the body thin out the mucus.  As the immune system is fighting infection, the mucus is used to transfer the virus or bacteria away from the body. (Overview of the common cold and flu. Duda, K, RN).

Often, green mucus or a wet cough is linked to a bacterial infection. Bacterial infections may be treated with antibiotics and viral infections don’t always improve with antibiotics. Since antiviral medication is hard on the body, physicians don’t prescribe them for common colds. He/she may prescribe antiviral meds for the flu if the influenza is in its beginning stages.

What is the “flu?” It’s caused by the influenza virus, which has several strains that mutate regularly. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 5-20% of Americans are diagnosed with influenza every year. It can be quite serious as it kills thousands of people each year. (Overview of the common cold and flu. Duda, Kristina, RN).

Flu symptoms that are different from the common cold include:

  • body aches
  • fever
  • vomiting and/or diarrhea

Early diagnosis is key when it comes to fighting the flu. If you feel you may have the flu, see your primary care physician immediately. When we sneeze or cough, we send out contagious droplets to our surroundings. If you touch a doorknob or a telephone that was recently handled by a cold-infected individual, chances are good that you will catch it, especially if you immediately touch your mouth or eyes.

As I have consistently written in previous blogs, the key to living a healthy life is by conducting actions that make SENSE. Live the SENSE model of life and help keep the doctor away!

Sleep helps the body to combat diseases. Insomnia often aggravates stress and negative emotions.

Exercise and weight management can reduce our risk for heart disease and diabetes. From cardiovascular to yoga, exercise is paramount.

Nutrition is a significant environmental factor. It is recommended to consume foods such as green vegetables like peas and broccoli. Load your diet with nuts, fruits and vegetables!

Stress-reduction – Take some time to relax and unwind. High levels of stress are never beneficial.

Positive Emotions – Positive thinking and changing our perception provides healing. This is also self-preserving!


This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualifies health provider before making any health, medical or other decisions based upon the data contained herein. Information provided is for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professionals.

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