Cold and Flu Symptoms And Remedies
The common cold (also known as nasopharyngitis, rhinopharyngitis, acute coryza, or a cold) is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract which affects primarily the nose. Symptoms include coughing, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, and fever which usually resolve in seven to ten days, with some symptoms lasting up to three weeks. Colds are more common in the winter months. Cold weather by itself does not increase the chance of getting a cold. People are in closer contact with each other at this time of year, because they stay indoors, and so are more likely to infect each other. The viruses that cause colds are spread by sneezing, coughing and hand contact.
The flu is caused by a virus. Symptoms include high fever, sore throat, weakness, headache, muscle and joint pains and a cough. Treatment includes bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids. Vulnerable people are more likely to develop serious complications including pneumonia. Immunisation can offer protection from flu. The flu virus has a unique ability to change its surface structure. This allows it to escape recognition by the body’s immune system and cause widespread illness (epidemics and pandemics). Most cases of influenza occur within a six to eight-week period during winter and spring.
Cold and flu viruses are spread from person to person as droplets in the air. Sneezing or coughing produces more droplets and helps to spread the infection. Touching infected surfaces, such as door handles or when shaking hands, and then passing the virus from the hands to the mouth, nose or eyes is another route of infection.
Protect yourself and others against colds and flu by:
• coughing or sneezing into a tissue
• throwing a used tissue away as soon as possible
• washing your hands as soon as possible
• having a flu jab every year if you're in an at-risk group
Symptoms of colds
• A stuffy or runny nose
• Sore throat
• Red eyes
• Swelling of lymph glands
• Fever (occasionally)
• There may be loss of appetite and, sometimes, nausea and some vomiting.
The actual symptoms will vary from person to person and from illness to illness. Usually, the symptoms will last from a few days to a week or more and the person recovers fully without any ongoing problems.
Symptoms of flu
• High fever, chills and sweating
• Sore throat
• General muscle and joint pains (in the legs and back)
• A non-productive (dry) cough that can later become more severe and productive (sputum or mucous is coughed up).
Immune System Boosters
Immune system boosters are, quite simply, supplements that help to ensure your immune system is functioning at its best. Once Autumn sets in, the season of colds and flu arrives with coughs, runny nose and sore throats. So you need to find and buy the best immune system vitamins to keep you healthy throughout the winter. As your immune system is your major defence against bacteria and viruses, it makes sense to build and support it with immunity boosters.
Vitamin C has always been associated with helping to fight off colds and flu, but research has shown that it doesn’t help much once you have caught the virus. Instead, it’s much better to take vitamin C all year so it continually supports your immune system.
Echinacea is probably the best-known immune system booster. It works by helping your body to produce interferon – a substance that prevents viruses from getting into cells to reproduce. Research is now showing that taking Echinacea can reduce the risk of you catching a cold or flu virus by up to 50%.
Selenium helps to reduce infections by stimulating the production, development and activity of white blood cells that are involved in defending your body against infectious diseases.
Your body produces vitamin D3 when it’s exposed to sunlight and, as you don’t get much sunlight at this time of year, you tend to become vitamin D deficient. One of the functions of this vitamin is to control the genes that, in turn, control the production of cathelicidin - partof your body’s “rapid response” force against viral attacks.
The natural anti-oxidants found in black elderberries havebeen proven to work as immune system boosters. An extract of black elderberry - Sambucol is readily available and has had over 20 years of research,making it one of the most extensively researched immune system boostersavailable.
There are a few steps you can take to help prevent catching colds and flu:
• Eat a balanced diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables to help get lots of vitamins and minerals which can boost your immune system5
• Take regular (preferably daily) exercise,6 and have enough rest for your immune system to work properly7
• Don't smoke - or if you do, try to stop, as smoking reduces the strength of your immune defences and reduces your levels of infection-fighting vitamin C.8
There are steps you can take when you have a cold or flu, to help prevent spreading illness:
• Try to stay away from other people to prevent the virus from spreading
• Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing and wash your hands regularly
• Throw away tissues as soon as you have used them
• if you are contagious with flu, stay home from work to prevent spreading it to others and keep children home from school.
There is no cure for colds or flu. Antibiotics, which treat infections due to bacteria, don’t work on cold and flu viruses. However, here are some things you can do to help yourself feel better:
• Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
• Take paracetamol to help relieve the fever and pain, and decongestants to help a blocked nose (ask your pharmacist for more advice)
• Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables
• Get plenty of rest and don’t go back to work too early
• Don't smoke or drink alcohol.
Tips to Treat Colds and Flu the Natural Way
1. Blow Your Nose Often - and the Right Way: It's important to blow your nose regularly when you have a cold rather than sniffling mucus back into your head. But when you blow hard, pressure can cause an earache. The best way to blow your nose: Press a finger over one nostril while you blow gently to clear the other. Wash your hands after blowing your nose.
2. Stay Rested: Resting when you first come down with a cold or the flu helps your body direct its energy toward the immune battle. This battle taxes the body. So give it a little help by lying down under a blanket.
3. Gargle: Gargling can moisten a sore throat and bring temporary relief. Try a teaspoon of salt dissolved in warm water, four times daily. To reduce the tickle in your throat, try an astringent gargle -- such as tea that contains tannin -- to tighten the membranes. Or use a thick, viscous gargle made with honey or a mixture of honey and apple cider vinegar, a popular folk remedy. Steep one tablespoon of raspberry leaves or lemon juice in two cups of hot water and mix in one teaspoon of honey. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before gargling. Honey should never be given to children less than 1 year old.
4. Drink Hot Liquids: Hot liquids relieve nasal congestion, help prevent dehydration, and soothe the uncomfortably inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat.
5. Take a Steamy Shower: Steamy showers moisturize your nasal passages and relax you. If you're dizzy from the flu, run a steamy shower while you sit on a chair nearby and take a sponge bath.
6. Apply Hot or Cold Packs Around Your Congested Sinuses: Either temperature may help you feel more comfortable. You can buy reusable hot or cold packs at a drugstore. Or make your own. Take a damp washcloth and heat it for 55 seconds in a microwave (test the temperature first to make sure it's not scalding). Or take a small bag of frozen peas to use as a cold pack.
7. Sleep With an Extra Pillow Under Your Head: This will help with the drainage of nasal passages. If the angle is too awkward, try placing the pillows between the mattress and the box springs to create a more gradual slope.
8. Don't Fly Unless Necessary: There's no point adding stress to your already stressed-out upper respiratory system, and that's what the change in air pressure will do. Flying with cold or flu congestion can hurt your eardrums as a result of pressure changes during takeoff and landing. If you must fly, use a decongestant and carry a nasal spray with you to use just before takeoff and landing. Chewing gum and swallowing frequently can also help relieve pressure.
Remember, serious conditions can masquerade as the common cold and a mild infection can evolve into something more serious. If you have severe symptoms or are feeling sicker with each passing day, see a doctor
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