With the onset of cold and flu season, sore throats, headaches and runny noses is bound to leave you with a miserable feeling. Unfortunately, everyone ends up catching a cold every now and then. The reason being, common colds are one of the most common illnesses, which affect adults at an average of 2-4 times a year and children at an average of 3-8 every year.
Cold and flu symptoms can leave your body in a bad shape. While there is no cure available to take care of common cold, there are various things you can do to get rid of the symptoms.
What’s behind cold and flu?
Sometimes it feels like you catch cold and the same event keeps happening again and again. The reason being, there are approximately 200 different types of viruses that can bring you down with cold. The most common being Rhinovirus, which accounts for around 70% of common colds. The flu (influenza) is the result of a completely different virus when compared to common cold (influenza A or B). The viruses are spread through a wide variety of ways from hand contact, from surfaces like door handles or the air, due to someone around you coughing and sneezing.
Stress and lack of sleep increases the chance of you catching colds and flu, as can going to nursery and preschool. That’s why you would always feel like your kids are the one who are consistently bringing germs home along with their homework! However, the good news is, once you’ve battled cold due to a particular virus, there are less chances of you catching it again.
The difference between cold and flu
Both cold and flu are viral infections which can target the nose, throat, airways and sinuses, but they are not similar. While cold symptoms can leave you with an unwell feeling, flu symptoms are generally more severe.
If you are down with any of the below mentioned symptoms, there are chances that you are down with a common cold:
- Runny nose
- Blocked nose (congestion)
- Sore throat
- High fever
Flu can target your entire body. Symptoms are very much like cold, but are often more intense and would also include:
- Sudden fevers, sweating and shivering
- Aching muscles and joints
- Weakness and lethargy
- Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
- Dry, chesty cough
How long do cold and flu symptoms last?
Cold symptoms develop over a couple of days and stays with you for a few days before subsiding; but in certain cases it can last up to 3 weeks in certain people. Flu symptoms start appearing 1-3 days after infection is caught and stays with you for up to a week.
If your symptoms start to worsen, or last for more than 10 days, we suggest you consult a doctor. You should also consult a doctor if: you are suffering from chronic conditions like diabetes or asthma or if you are down with very high fever with headache, chest or abdominal pain.
Cold and flu remedies and relief: what works?
Cold and flu symptoms can make you feel uneasy, but you don’t have to feel miserable. Here’s a list of remedies that can help you tackle cold and flu:
- Take rest and stay warm
- Consume plenty of water and non-alcoholic fluids
- Eat regular, healthy meals
- Avoid smoking
- Relive yourself from sore throat by sucking on a throat lozenge; or drink hot water with lemon and honey
Cold and flu are the result of a viral infection, so it is unlikely that antibiotics will help. So, get plenty of rest, stay warm and take a pain killer. Pain relievers that contain decongestant, can be administered to help relieve fever, aches and pains, sore throat and blocked sinuses/nose. The combination of pain reliever and decongestant provides stronger dual relief for your cold, flu pain and congestion.
Certain cold and flu medicines shouldn’t be prescribed to young children, breastfeeding or pregnant women or people with specific medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure, glaucoma, asthma). Always check with your pharmacist or doctor for advice first.
Six tips to help manage cold or flu
There are certain simple things one can do to avoid catching a cold or spreading the same to others:
- Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating or blowing your nose
- Cover your mouth and nose while you are sneezing or coughing
- Keep your hands off your mouth, eyes or nose
- Refrain from sharing drinks or utensils in which you eat
- Clean household surfaces and dummies and toys of children
- Rest well