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Common Cold and Influenza (Flu)

Sometimes, it is difficult to distinguish between a common cold and influenze (flu). The following chart may be used to tell the two health concerns apart.

greenbal.gif (917 bytes)Influenza (Flu) Symptoms
If you get infected by the flu virus, you will usually feel symptoms 1 to 4 days later. You can spread the flu to others before your symptoms start and for another 3 to 4 days after your symptoms appear. The symptoms start very quickly and may include:

  • greenbal.gif (917 bytes)Body aches
  • greenbal.gif (917 bytes)Chills
  • greenbal.gif (917 bytes)Dry cough
  • greenbal.gif (917 bytes)Fever
  • greenbal.gif (917 bytes)Headache
  • greenbal.gif (917 bytes)Sore throat
  • greenbal.gif (917 bytes)Stuffy nose

Typically, the fever begins to decline on the second or third day of the illness. The flu almost never causes symptoms in the stomach and intestines. The illness that some call “stomach flu” is not influenza.

greenbal.gif (917 bytes)Cold vs Flu Symptoms
Symptoms Cold Flu
Fever Rare Usual; high (100°F to 102°F; especially in young children); lasts 3 to 4 days
Headache Rare Common
General Aches, Pains Slight Usual; often severe
Fatigue, Weakness Sometimes Usual; can last up to 2 to 3 weeks
Extreme Exhaustion Never Usual; at the beginning of the illness
Stuffy Nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Chest Discomfort, Cough Mild to moderate; hacking cough Common; can become severe

greenbal.gif (917 bytes) Avian flu
Avian flu has spread to 10 Asian countries. Humans catch the disease through close contact with live infected birds. Experts say avian flu is not a food-borne virus, so eating chicken is safe.

The first human cases were seen in Hong Kong in 1997. In 1997, six out of the 18 people who were infected died. In the latest outbreak, there have been over 20 confirmed deaths from the virus. There are 15 different strains of the virus. It is the H5N1 strain which is infecting humans and causing high death rates.

Symptoms are similar to other types of flu - fever, malaise, sore throats and coughs. People can also develop conjunctivitis. Patients can be treated with antiviral drugs. Researchers are currently working to develop a vaccine.

Coping With Flu
While there's no cure for flu, there are some natural and practical flu remedies you can use to ease flu symptoms. Here are some you can try today.
  • greenbal.gif (917 bytes)Tip #1: Stay home and get plenty of rest.
  • Tip #2: Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Tip #3: Treat aches and fever so you feel comfortable.
  • Tip #4: Use cough suppressants and expectorants to treat the cough.
  • Tip #5: Use steam inhalations.
  • Tip #6: Sit in a steamy bathroom.
  • Tip #7: Run the humidifier.
  • Tip #8: Try soothing lozenges.
  • Tip #9: Try saline (salt water) nasal drops.
Source: WebMD
When Should I Call The Doctor About an Antiviral Flu Drug?
Flu drugs are taken at the onset of flu. These flu drugs may help decrease the severity and duration of flu symptoms.

The CDC recommends Relenza or Tamiflu. Relenza and Tamiflu are most effective when given within 48 hours of the onset of illness. These flu medications can decrease the duration of the flu by one day if used within this early time period. They are usually given for a period of about five days. They are also sometimes used to help prevent the flu in someone exposed to another person with the flu.

In addition, call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
  • greenbal.gif (917 bytes)Earache or drainage from your ear
  • Pain in your face or forehead along with thick yellow or green mucus for more than a week
  • Any temperature 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in an infant less than 3 months of age
  • Temperature higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit in older children or adults
  • Hoarseness, sore throat, or a cough that will not go away
  • Wheezing
  • Vomiting
  • Persistent or worsening symptoms
Seek immediate medical help for any trouble breathing, chest pain, confusion, seizure, fainting, extreme fussiness or difficulty arousing.

What about taking an antibiotic? Would that relieve my symptoms?

Antibiotics only work against infections caused by bacteria. The flu is a viral infection, and antibiotics don't treat viruses.

Source: WebMD
Common Cold Symptoms
Coughing, aching, and sneezing are some of the symptoms of a common cold. The common cold and its annoying symptoms are caused by a viral infection that cannot be treated with antibiotics. However, there are a few simple actions you can take to minimize its symptoms:
  • greenbal.gif (917 bytes)Drink plenty of fluids
  • Keep your immune system in top condition
  • Stay well rested

Self-care for common cold
Self-care for common cold can be approached in a number of ways. To make it easier, most doctors recommend trying these simple steps first:
  • greenbal.gif (917 bytes)Be sure to rest. Give your body some down time to help it fight off the cold.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, including water and other clear fluids, to help thin mucous.
  • Take extra vitamin C. Studies have shown that 1 to 4 grams a day may help shorten your cold.
  • Take zinc lozenges. Use lozenges containing zinc gluconate, zinc gluconate-glycine, or zinc acetate. Taking 13 to 25 mg every two hours, will help stop the virus and shorten the illness.
  • Shorten sick time with echinacea. At the first signs of a cold, take 3 to 5 ml of echinacea juice or tincture every two hours to make your cold less severe.
  • Take some garlic, 600 to 900 mg a day of a standardized garlic supplement, to help prevent colds.

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