We may be dancing at the hottest Mehndis in December but as soon as it’s January were in bed with the hottest fever. With the Peshawar winds blowing through town and mixed weather signals, most of us get hit with the cold, flu and cough. Although we use them interchangeably, they actually stand for different diseases and different causes, symptoms and treatment. They range in intensity for mild to very severe leading to hospitalization.
Causes and Prevention
Cold: Hundreds of different strains of viruses can cause both a chest cold and head cold, which is why they’re so difficult to treat. The “common cold” is caused by the rhinovirus.
Flu: Short for influenza, flu is caused by influenza virus type A, B or C. The influenza virus A and B are responsible for the bigger outbreaks or flu, while type C only causes mild symptoms. There are vaccines available for flu caused by type A and type B viruses but not for type C.
Both the cold and flu virus are spread from person to person through air borne droplets, which are expelled by a patient in their spit while coughing and sneezing. This virus-ridden droplet stays airborne and then lands on the floor where it survives for 24 hours. Since it is airborne, these viruses are highly infectious and patients should make every attempt to cover their mouths with a tissue As it is easy for people in the same room to catch virus from each other, and try and use separate crockery for eating and drinking.
Cold: Symptoms develop 1-4 days after catching the virus and include clear water nasal drainage, which might get darker and thicker as the disease progresses, itchy throat, and a mild cough with congestion ensues. Usually cough symptoms die out with in a week and there is usually no fever with a cold.
Flu: Flu symptoms include sore throat, fever, headache, muscle soreness, pain in joints congestion, dry cough, tiredness and sore eyes.
Seek Medical Treatment if:
- Symptoms worsening after the third day
- Phlegm and nasal drainage is thick and dark in color
- There is trouble breathing and wheezing sounds
- Severe vomiting and diarrhea
- Ear ache
- Sensitivity to bright light
- If you are pregnant
Other than these severe symptoms, the cold and flu do not require medical attention and resolve themselves with in a week.
If you have already visited your physician regarding your disease take care to follow their instructions closely. However, if your symptoms are not severed then you can follow some home remedies: Take off from work and rest.
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Take in vitamins and zinc to boost your immune system
- Blow your nose and dispose of tissues immediately. Wear a mask if you have a baby in the house
- Gargle with salted warm water, or honey and apple cider vinegar
- Keep yourself warm and sleep with extra pillows under your head
- Breath in steam for the cough
- Drink warm tea