November 12, 2022

Cold and Flu

Differentiation between Cold & Flu:

It can be difficult to distinguish influenza (Flu) from the common Cold. Both respiratory diseases are caused by viruses and share many symptoms.

Both the common cold and flu can be contagious. However, cold symptoms are usually milder and resolve within one to ten days. The flu usually resolves in two weeks. However, severe symptoms can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus infections.

Antibiotics are not an effective treatment option because both are caused by viruses rather than bacteria.

Signs & Symptoms:

Although both the flu and colds can affect the respiratory system (though flu symptoms tend to be more severe than the common cold), they both involve the respiratory system.

Although there are many viruses that can cause a common cold, most viruses have very similar symptoms.

Common symptoms are:

Aches in the body


Sore throat


Congestion in the nasal


The flu usually comes with a fever and symptoms that are more severe than a cold. According to the CDC, flu symptoms can include chills but not cold.

“Run-of-the-mill colds can make you feel miserable, but they shouldn’t interfere with your daily activities,” states Stephen Russell MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

Can you get a cold in the summer?

A summer cold is simply a common cold held in summer either due to a weak immune system or an allergic attack but it is difficult to distinguish the two. If you feel the symptoms fluctuate from mild to severe and back to mild and disappear then summer cold is due to cold. In an allergic cold, the severity of symptoms remains consistent. Moreover, symptoms change during traveling outside. To get rid of the summer cold, proper rest, herbal remedies, and nutritious food is advised.

Influenza: Causes and Risk Factors

Influenza viruses are the most common cause of flu, however, there are many viruses that can cause colds (most often rhinoviruses).

Common cold symptoms usually appear within one to three days of being exposed to a cold-causing virus. These viruses can spread via air, personal contact, and respiratory secretions. This includes handshakes, touching contaminated items, and exposure to infected persons’ sneezes and coughs. The temperature of a normal person remains 97°F (36.1°C) to 99°F (37.2°C) and is regulated by the hypothalamus gland. People living in chilled areas have a tendency to lower side movement of core body temperature and know how to get heat from cold.

People start to improvise some physical activities to maintain their body temperature once they feel cold. Quick physical activity like walking, jumping, running, or jogging will increase blood circulation and hence core body temperature starts increasing. Another way to warm yourself is to drink hot beverages like tea or coffee or hot soup. Some people favor doing mental exercises like meditation or respiring.

According to Houston Methodist, shouting, singing, or simply talking can all release contaminated droplets into the air. These can be inhaled and transmit the virus.

Some people are more vulnerable to complications when they get a cold or the virus, such as the elderly, the very young, and those with compromised immune systems.

You could be at greater risk of getting infected if you take the following steps:


According to the CDC, children under 5 years old and older adults are more likely to get the flu.

Weakened Immune Systems

If your immune system is weak, viruses can easily enter the body. According to the CDC, certain chronic diseases such as cancer, HIV, AIDS, and autoimmune diseases increase your chances of getting a cold or flu. The CDC also recommends that you avoid immunosuppressive medication such as steroids, biologics, and chemotherapy.


Smoking makes your respiratory system vulnerable to flu and cold viruses. According to the American Lung Association, cold symptoms are more common in smokers.


Flu complications are more common in women who are in the second or third trimester. “We’re not exactly sure why, but there has always been a question of whether or not the immune system changes during pregnancy,” says Laura Riley, MD, the chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine and the obstetrician-gynecologist in chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

What Types Of Flu Are There?

According to the CDC, there are four types of influenza viruses.

Influenza A

There are many types of influenza A viruses. They are based on two proteins, hemagglutinin, and neuraminidase (N), which can be found on the virus’s surface. According to the CDC, there are two strains of influenza A that have been found in humans: the H1N1 and H3N2 varieties.

Because it is typically spread between pigs, a new strain of H1N1 was identified as the swine flu. This led to a 2009 flu pandemic. Between April 2009 to April 2010, the CDC estimated that 60.8 million cases of swine influenza were in the United States. This led to nearly 12,500 deaths and more than 274,000 hospitalizations. 1918’s influenza pandemic was caused by an H1N1 virus of avian origin.

The CDC notes that H3N2 mutates faster than other strains. This can make it more resistant to the flu vaccine.

Influenza B

These viruses are less common than influenza A but can cause similar symptoms and lead to seasonal epidemics. According to the CDC, influenza B cannot be classified by subtypes. However, there are two strains: Yamagata and Victoria.

Influenza C

These viruses can be found in humans, just like influenza A and B. However, influenza C viruses are less severe and are not believed to cause epidemics. The CDC warns that seasonal flu vaccines which are made from strains of influenza A or B do not protect against the influenza C virus.

Influenza D

It is not known if this strain of influenza can cause illness in humans. It is a relatively new strain that affects cattle. However, a report in Current opinion in Virology suggests that it could pose a more significant threat to humans.


Common colds can be diagnosed using PCR-based tests. However, they are not available for routine use. They are reserved for patients suffering from severe pneumonia or severe respiratory tract infections. Your doctor may order X-rays or tests if your symptoms are severe.

Sometimes doctors use a rapid influenza diagnostic test to diagnose flu symptoms. Swabs taken from the back or nose are used to test for influenza virus antigens, which are substances that can cause your immune system to form antibodies. Although the test results can be obtained in under 15 minutes, they are not always exact. Flu tests that are more reliable can only be done in hospitals and specialized labs.


The severity of the flu or cold depends on how severe the virus is and how well your immune system can fight it. This is why people with chronic illnesses, the elderly, and those who are very young are more susceptible to viral infections.

Donald W. Novey MD, an integrative medicine and family specialist in Poulsbo (Washington), says that “the best weapon we can have is our immune system.” The immune system can be strengthened by good nutrition, exercise, and adequate sleep, as well as low-stress levels. Dr. Novey explains that a failure to adhere to any of these four points could lead either to a more severe or prolonged cold.

The flu symptoms usually disappear within seven to ten days. Cold symptoms generally subside within three to seven days. Severe symptoms will typically disappear after a few days. Some symptoms, such as fatigue or cough, can last for weeks.

Flu-infected people are most contagious within the first three to five days following their illness. However, some adults can spread the virus up to seven days later, according to the CDC.

Home Remedies:

  • The leaves of the holy basil (Tulsi), plant, mixed with equal quantities of dried ginger powder make a great substitute for tea during cold or flu symptoms. You can add milk and sugar to this tea three times daily.

  • One (5 ml.) teaspoon of juice of ginger (Adrak), and holy basil (Tulsi). Mix one teaspoon of tea with five ml. Honey is to be consumed two-three times daily.

  • Half a teaspoon of powdered black pepper (Kali Mirich), half a teaspoon (2.5ml.). Mix it with jaggery (guda), twice daily.

  • A small piece of ginger (Adraka), fried in ghee. To be consumed two times daily.

  • A teaspoonful of the paste or powder of turmeric mixed with 1 to 2 gms of ghee and hot milk, thrice daily. This provides immediate relief and aids in early recovery.

  • Warm turmeric powder can be used to soothe a sore throat.

  • Take a glass of warm water with the juice of 2 lemons and sugar to your liking. It will relieve nasal catarrh if you take the same thing at night.

  • Two to three teaspoons (10-15 ml. Two to three teaspoons (10-15 ml.) of Amla juice or half to one teaspoon (2.5-5gm) of powdered the same are ideal for controlling cold.

Prevention and self-care:

There are many ways to keep your condition’s intensity low.

  • To relieve a stuffy nose, inhale the steam. In a bowl of warm water, add a few drops of eucalyptus oils. For a few minutes, cover your head with a towel and place the bowl in front of you. Make sure the water does not boil over and burn your skin.

  • Keep your immune system strong and healthy. Amla and Tulsi are two plants that can help strengthen your immune system.

  • Don’t heat the room too much. Allow the body to naturally lose heat.

  • Avoid contact with others who have cold symptoms.

  • Get enough sleep and eat a balanced diet. Enjoy hot beverages.

Care for newborns during colds and coughs to prevent Acute Respiratory Infections:

  • Use a home remedy to soothe the throat and ease the cough such as lemon, honey, ginger, tulsi, or warm water.


As flu and cold occurred due to weak response systems, they can be minimized with the use of Ayurveda in daily routine life by building immunity stronger.

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