If your nose is running, throat is scratching, and head is thrashing. Is it cold or flu? It is hard to know that as the symptoms of cold and flu overlaps. Here we are discussing the basic guidelines regarding difference between cold and flu symptoms and treatments against these respiratory infections. The main causative agents of both, the cold and flu, is the virus. There are more than 100 different type of viruses which cause cold. However, the Rhinovirus is the common causative agent for cold. Cold can catch you any time of year but winter season is most common for cold attack. It is most contagious type of viral infection.
Flu, also known as Influenza, is also an upper respiratory infection. Unlike the cold, which can infect people anytime in the year, flu is a seasonal infection. It usually starts from fall to spring. The winter season is the peak of flu. The flu is mainly caused by the influenza virus A, B and C. among these, influenza A and B are most common types.
Cold and flu symptoms
For the best treatment of cold and flu, we should know the difference between the both. A cold is a mild type of respiratory illness as compared to flu. The cold cause you to feel bad for a few days but the flu can make you ill long ranging from a few days to weeks. The later can result in serious health related issues likepneumonia and hospitalization for long time.
There is little bit difference in the symptoms of cold and flu with some similarities. The treatment should be selected on the basis of your predominant symptoms. The cold starts with the sore throat which goes away within one or two days. Nasal symptoms like runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, congestion follow and cough ends by fourth day. Mild tiredness and headache are common in people suffering with cold. Fever is not common symptom in adults but children can suffer with slight fever. The nasal secretion is watery on the first day but later it becomes thick and dark. These symptoms go away within a week if the cold is because of viral infection. If your cold not ends within a week than it means you are infected with bacteria and you have to use antibiotics.
On the other side, symptoms of flu are more severe than the cold. Flu includes dry and hacking cough, sore throat, fever, muscle ache, headache, soreness, shaking chills and congestion. This severe fatigue may last up to two weeks with prolonged runny nose. Vomiting and diarrhea are also included in the case of swine flu. The most common complication of flu is pneumonia. Children may also suffer with nausea and vomiting. If you are feeling shortness in breathing than you must visit our doctor.
Duration of cold ends in seven to ten days usually, although mild symptoms last up to 2 weeks while the flu comes quickly and can be intense and usually lasts in 1 or 2 weeks. These above guidelines about the symptoms of cold and flu can help you to figure out your suffering. But in other case, you can visit your doctor for the confirmation test within first 48 hours of symptoms.
Both the cold and flu have the contagious nature. The touching of nose with hand and later the contact of hand with areas around you leads spread of virus. This can be avoided by keeping your hands germ-free; by washing hands frequently. If you are diabetic follow this diet plan for patients.
Over the counter flu treatment
Generally, the flu completes its course. Over-the-counter (OTC) medication can help in reduction of symptoms but won’t shorten the duration of flu.
OTC pain relievers help in lessoning the headache and muscular pain that are accompanied with flu. Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen can also help in reduction of fever. Naproxen and Aspirin are also effective pain killers. But the children younger suffering with flu and are less than 18 years cannot take Aspirin. Researchers have reported that the use of aspirin in flu like conditions by younger can lead to Reye’s syndrome. This is a rare condition but can cause fatal effects on children as it damages the liver and brain. Follow these coping strategies for anxiety or depression if you feel depressed.
The cough suppressants like Dextromethorphan can be used; this suppressant is effective against dry cough without mucus.
Decongestants are useful in controlling stuffy nose. The OTC decongestants available are pseudoephedrine and Phenylephrine. But the people suffering with high blood pressure should not use these medicines.
First generation Antihistamines
Rare symptoms of flu, itchy eyes and runny nose, can be minimized by first generation antihistamines like Brompheniramine, dimenhydrinate, diphenhydramine, and doxylamine. These first-generation antihistamines have sedative effects, make sleepy. The second- generation antihistamines like Cetirizine and Loratadine can be taken to avoid the sedative effects of antihistamines.
Which cold medicine works best?
The cold medication should be used according to the symptoms you are feeling. Following is the list of best medication used to relieve the cold symptoms:
- Sudafed- best for relieving congestion associated with cold and flu
- Tylenol- For mild sore throat, aches, and fever
- Advil- best for fever, headache, back and muscle pain and sore throat
- Mucinex DM- best for treating cough along with cold and flu
- Allegra 12HR- for controlling the runny nose and sneezing
- Benadryl Allergy – best for relieving from runny nose and sneezing
The plenty of rest and intake of fluids are the best ways to fight cold and its associated symptoms. But, no doubt, the proper medication also lessons the worst effects of cold and makes it more bearable. These medications have proved that they only help in treating the cold related symptoms but not have any effect on length and severity of the cold.
Home remedies for cold and fever
The symptoms of cold and flu cause discomfort. There are some home remedies for cold and flu which are helpful and are relievers of pain, fever, cough, and runny nose:
The blowing and cleaning of runny nose act as a great reliever from mucus. But care is required while doing nose blowing, it may cause ear problem. To avoid ear problems, try to blow one nostril at a time and keep your other nostril closed with your finger. Follow these guidelines for pregnancy care tips and healthy food.
Nose rinsing with saline water
The water with some salt (saline) can be used to rinse nose is an effective home remedy to ease nasal congestion. This practice also helps to kick out germs (bacteria and viruses) from the nose. This salt water can be purchased from Pharmacy as ready-made saline solutions or can be made at home by adding half tea-spoon of salt in one cup of boiled water. Special devices for rinsing the runny nose are also available in market like the bulb syringes or can be rinsed with your clean cupped hand.
The best home remedy of cold and flu is rest and keeping your body warm. In this condition, the natural immune system of body works at its maximum level.
In case of sore throat during cold and flu, the symptoms can be eased by gargling with salt water. A cup of boiled warm water should be mixed with half tea-spoon of salt. The gargling helps in sore throat relief.
Use of warm drinks
The stuffiness and sore throat can be relieved with the help of warm drinks intake. Even the warm cup of tea eases the symptoms of cold and flu. You can take ginger ale or othermedicinal herbs in warm water twice or thrice day according to severity of cold and flu.
The congestion and blocked nose can be eased with breathing in the steam, it helps to moisturize the nasal passage.
Menthol or any other essential oils can be used to open the blocked nose. The smelling of menthol may be in the form of cream or gel, helps in opening of blocked and congested nasal passage. It also helps in nose blowing. It smell is less than treatment of vaginal mesh.
Hot / cold therapy
The blocked sinus can be relieved with the hot/ cold therapies. The hot or cold compressors or pads can be used against both sides of nose and for throat also.
Bedding with extra pillow to keep you head high also works in relieving congested nasal passage in cold and flu.
To keep yourself comfort, avoid travelling especially through flight. The cabin pressure causes discomfort to ears and breathing if you are suffering with cold and flu, especially at the time of takeoff and landing. The chewing of gum during flying can also help in relieve the cabin pressure. See list of best hospital for liver cancer
Take healthy food
The intake of balanced and nutritious food helps in fighting infections of cold and flu. Fruits enriched with vitamin C are more beneficial in infections of cold and flu. Spicy dishes should be avoided.
Water and fluids intake
Plenty of water and fluids intake keeps you hydrated which help in breaking up of congestion. Juices of Vitamin C enriched fruits are also helping. The hydration keeps your good moist. Ginger or herbal teas can be added according you’re your taste. Cola drinks and coffee should be avoided as caffeine cause dehydration.
Steaming with vaporizers
The medical inhalers, steamers, vaporizers /nebulizers and humidifiers are available in market which are helpful in easing congestion and blocked nose.
Fastest way to get rid of a cold
The research says that sucking on zinc within the first 24 hours after symptoms starts to appear can shorten the suffering period of cold. The intake of zinc containing food not only reduces the severity of sore throat and runny nose but also shorten the overall period from 7 days to 3 days. Zinc pills or syrup are also available in market. You can also visit these top 10 luxury rehabilitation center in Miami Florida.
Best way to get rid of a head cold
The head cold is like a common cold but it is named as head cold because of its center around the head and facial regions of the body. The duration of head cold generally ranges from one week to ten days. The key of fastest way of getting rid of the head cold is keeping your nasal passage moist. The moist and humid sinus will keep you less irritated and away from head cold. The following are some best ways that relieves you from head cold:
- Use nasal spray
- Drink plenty of water and fluids
- Flushing your sinus with saline water
- Warm compressions on nasal passage and head
- Use of steam-vaporizers
- Try over-the-counter nasal decongestant- Sinex