Discerning a Cold from the Flu

flue or coldCold and flu are both respiratory illnesses with a host of symptoms in common. The flu, however, could become serious if it leads to complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis or infections of the central nervous system. Children, the elderly and people with existing health problems are at greater risk of developing complications from the flu. Discerning which one you have may be tough, but key symptoms may make it possible for you to diagnose your ailment without a doctor’s visit.

About the Flu

Influenza is a common respiratory ailment affecting up to 20 percent of Americans annually, according to the CDC. With more than 200,000 of these individuals being hospitalized due to complications and approximately 3,000 to 49,000 dying from related problems, influenza is a potentially serious illness—much more so than the common cold. Both of them appear quickly and are highly contagious, spreading easily through the air and close contact with an infected person. Both viruses may also live on doorknobs, grocery cart handles and other public surfaces, which is why frequent hand washing is imperative.

The Common Cold

When compared to the flu, the common cold is much milder. Symptoms such as a runny nose or nasal congestion are common. And while both illnesses may cause fatigue, this symptom is typically less intense with a cold. Additionally, influenza is more likely to cause fever and muscle aches, which are not typical with the common cold. A cold may last anywhere from four to ten days, depending on your immune system and other factors.

Fighting Back

Regardless of which one you have, you can fight the illness by getting rest so your body is better able to recover. Additional ways to shorten the duration of cold or flu include:

  • Using herbs to support your immune system such as Elderberry D3fense, VS-C and Vitamin C Bioflavanoids
  • Diffuse essential oils to keep your respiratory system clear
  • Staying hydrated – Drink your water and some warm tea!
  • Keep your stress reduced by taking time out from work or other obligations that may be getting to you
  • Sipping soups or broths and eating wholesome foods – keep it light
  • Avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and exposure to second-hand smoke
References: WebMD http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/flu-complications CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/coldflu.htm

Mara Gerke