Several liters of hot tea, lemons, honey, towering used tissues and, in the worst case scenario, scores of medications! This must sound familiar to most of us in this cold, often slimy, weather. We need to ask the question though is it only a common cold or the flu that made us take to our bed? Even though their symptoms might be equally unpleasant, it is important that we be aware of which one we are dealing with.
The common cold and the flu are both disorders of the respiratory system; however, the cause is different viruses.
Flu or Common Cold?
The most important difference between the flu and the common cold is that while the flu symptoms characteristically worsen suddenly, the cold symptoms do so slowly and gradually.
In the case of the flu, high fever measuring 39 to 39.5°C may develop 24 to 48 hours following infection, may be accompanied by strong headaches, pain in the arms and legs and, later on, sore throat, dry cough, runny nose, stuffy nose and a productive cough.
The common cold is usually accompanied by low fever, possibly raised temperature but without muscle pain or headache, with the chief complaint being a runny nose and sneezing. We usually get over this in a few days without any residual symptoms while, in the case of the flu, complications such as drawn out inflammation of the upper or lower respiratory tract, pneumonia as well as myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) may arise. In comparison to others, our defenses against the flu are much lower making us much more susceptible to simultaneous bacterial infections.
“It is mistakenly believed that we do not need to take to our beds with the common cold. The cold is spread through droplets of fluid in closed areas such as the workplace, kindergarten or school causing the symptoms to appear in just about everyone. In the case of the flu, if you do not take to your bed, complications such as pneumonia may develop. Stay at home for a few days and rest to allow our system to concentrate on conquering the disorder.” reminded us Tóth-Domán Judit, MD, internist at the Buda Health Center, the Private Clinic of the Year.
Why do we catch cold in the cold weather?
It is not far from the truth when we say that we catch cold when it is cold. The fact is, that our nasal mucous membranes become less resistant to viruses in the cold, thus, when we come in contact with someone suffering from a cold, the viruses in our nasal mucous membranes start multiplying easier.
We cannot change the weather but, with a little care we can make our system more resistant. The following are a few tips:
- Wash your hands more often during the flu season, use a hand disinfectant and often freshen the air in the office and at home.
- Eat as much vegetables and fruit as possible! Aside from vitamins, immune system strengthening antioxidants are also very important.
- Besides being excellent immune system strengthener, garlic cleans the respiratory. Consume it freely!
- Drink as much fluids as possible, i.e., water, tea, to speed up our body’s metabolism and the passage of poisons.
- Work on reducing stress, regularly take part in aerobics, take time to rest and to regenerate. The cold is hard on our bodies, as well. A hot bath will also warm our soul.
- Try to have good quality sleep for the length of time you require.
- Dress in layers with clothes of natural fabric that breathe well in order to avoid temperature loss through damp clothes.
- Along with all the above preventive steps, let us not forget immunization - the only effective preventive method.