A lot of people like to say they have the ‘flu (influenza) rather than a cold, because it sounds more serious… so what are the symptoms of colds and ‘flu? (I asked a doctor)
Symptoms of a cold:
- sore throat, maybe hoarseness
- runny nose
- nasal congestion
- low grade fever
- body aches and pains
The common cold is a self-limited contagious illness that can be caused by over 200 different types of viruses. The common cold is medically referred to as a viral upper respiratory tract infection. What does that mean? Well, because it’s self-limiting, it will go away on its own. I know it feels like forever when you’ve had one, but the normal cold will last about three weeks, and usually, people feel much better after the first week.
Because it’s a virus, it means it won’t respond to anti-biotics, so they won’t help at all. If you get a secondary infection (we’ll look at those below) then anti-biotics may be helpful.
As you’ve probably guessed, the fact that colds are caused by so many different viruses, we can’t build up immunity to all of them, which is why you can catch a cold multiple times every year.
Some of the symptoms of the common cold and influenza may be similar, colds tend not to be as severe. The ‘flu tends to be more abrupt in the onset too – rapid symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, substantial muscle and body aches, a dry cough and extreme weakness. You can be feeling perfectly fine one day and miserably sick the next… this is probably ‘flu.
Because the ‘flu is only caused by one species of virus – the influenza virus – it is possible to be vaccinated against the ‘flu. The virus mutates, which is the reason you need to be vaccinated every year. Many people say they get the ‘flu immediately after being vaccinated. More likely, they get a cold soon after… and it’s associated with the vaccination.
Like a cold, the ‘flu is a virus, so anti-biotics will not cure it. Time and rest will help your body to fight it off, and plenty of fluids for both colds and ‘flu, as dehydration is a problem.
“Man ‘flu” is, as we know, only a normal sickness where the person feels much more miserable and in need of sympathy. Women can catch this too! If you’re feeling sooky and miserable (and let’s face it, if you’ve got cold or ‘flu, that’s likely!) then take the time to rest, put your feet up, wrap up in a blanket with tissues close at hand and have a nice hot drink. Maybe go back to bed. This is a good time to cosset your body and give in to those urges to rest without feeling any guilt. The more you rest in the early stages of the illness, the sooner you’ll feel better!
Is there a cure for cold or ‘flu?
Time, lots of rest, plenty of fluids. The over-the-counter “remedies” you can get will help to alleviate the symptoms and make you feel better (sometimes) however it’s still a good idea to rest, rather than carry on as if you’re 100%. Taking extra vitamins or supplements may help your body by boosting your immune system, but really, you’d need to be taking them all year ’round, and a balanced diet and good healthy lifestyle should give your body all the support it needs.
Obviously, if you’re concerned, see a health professional!! They can help you if the symptoms don’t go away, get worse, or seem a bit more serious than listed here. If you get a secondary infection – like a sinus infection from the stuffed-up nose – then anti-biotics can help (but not with the original cold) – and your doctor will know how to check for infections.
An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure
The balanced diet and healthy lifestyle is your first defence, and your best way of fighting off diseases. Your body is amazing! Give it the support it needs. Fresh air is something your body needs plenty of, even in winter. Lots of people in small enclosed spaces means the viruses can get to more people. If you are sick, or in contact with sick people, wash your hands regularly, using warm soapy water. Hand sanitisers may seem like an easy option, but the alcohol in them can dry out your skin and allow bacteria freer access.
Those antiseptic sprays might also seem like an easy option, but they do spray toxins in the air and you want your body to have the cleanest air possible at this time. Try just wiping surfaces instead – tea tree and eucalyptus oils are natural anti-septic agents and will kill viruses and bacteria. With any antiseptic wipe, remember to rinse the surface afterwards with clean water, especially if preparing food – you don’t want to be putting antiseptic stuff into your foods.
Obviously breathing fresh air and staying active is a benefit all year ’round. So is making sure you don’t have toxins or pollutants in your home – especially when you’ve got the windows and doors closed and you’re trying to keep warm.
These can include gases from your stove or heater, or from clothes or furnishings being heated up and releasing toxins from the fabric. Gases from paint, furniture, curtains, floor finishes, carpets, building material… you name it! Give me a call if you’re concerned about what’s in your home, and please feel free to comment below. Have you had Man Flu? Has a partner? How do you cope with their sookiness, or your own?
Queensland's leading Building Biologist, helping you to detox your home or workplace and achieve a balance between today's busy & techno-dependent life and nature.