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Cold and Flu - A Detailed Summary

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What are Cold and Flu? - An Introduction

MVSAT 2024

Differentiating between influenza, also known as the flu, and the common cold can be challenging. Both diseases affect the respiratory system and are caused by viruses; in addition, they share many of the same symptoms. The symptoms of a cold are often less severe and clear up within seven to ten days, whereas the symptoms of the flu typically last for two weeks or longer. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of individuals who are infected with the flu will recover in less than two weeks. However, the symptoms are worse, and serious consequences such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus or ear infections can develop as a result of having the flu. Antibiotics are not an effective therapeutic choice for viral illnesses like the common cold or the flu since these illnesses are caused by viruses, not bacteria.

Basics of Cold

A cold, also known as a common cold, is a respiratory illness that is very common and is typically caused by infections with rhinoviruses. Colds are a leading cause of missed work or school, with the typical U.S. adult having more than one per year. From childhood into adulthood, the vast majority of people will have experienced multiple incidences of the common cold. Cold-causing viruses usually get into the body through the nostrils and nasal passages. In retaliation, clear mucus is produced by the nose in order to flush the virus away.

Colds will get better on their own even though there is no cure for them. People can relieve their symptoms by getting as much rest as they can, drinking plenty of fluids, and, if necessary, using cold medicine. Complications are extremely uncommon, and in most cases, there is no requirement to see a medical professional. A cold, however, has the potential to cause serious illness in those who have compromised immune systems, such as those who have asthma or another condition that affects the airways.

What is a Flu?

The influenza virus can cause a variety of respiratory illnesses, the most common of which is known simply as "the flu." Although influenza infections are not as common as colds, when they do occur, they are more severe and can lead to more serious complications. Feverish feelings or a temperature of 100 degrees Celsius or higher are two of the most prominent symptoms of the flu. On the other hand, not everyone who has the flu will run a temperature. Some might also experience cold cough fever symptoms during the flu.

Types of Flu

There are three types of influenza A, B, and C. All three types can mutate or change into new strains, and type A influenza changes a lot, making new strains of the virus every few years. This indicates that it is impossible to establish a long-lasting immunity against the influenza virus. Even if you acquire flu antibodies one year, they will protect you against a new strain the next.

Type A mutations cause the big flu outbreaks that happen every few years and the big pandemics that can happen, but not very often. Type B is less common, and most people who get it have milder symptoms. But type B flu can cause major outbreaks every three to five years.

Type C influenza induces infection but not normal flu symptoms. Both influenza A and B have been linked to Reye's syndrome, a potentially fatal complication that usually affects children and teens under the age of 18. Reye's syndrome has spread widely when people get influenza type B or chickenpox, but other viruses have also been linked to it. Aspirin raises the risk of Reye's syndrome, so people under the age of 18 shouldn't take it if they have signs of a virus or are getting over the flu or another virus.

Most influenza viruses that cause illness in people seem to come from parts of Asia, where close contact between livestock and people makes it easy for viruses to change and spread. Swine, or pigs, can get avian (from birds, like poultry) and human forms of a virus.

Common Cold vs Influenza

Both the influenza virus infection (commonly referred to as the flu) and the common cold are contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Cold symptoms may not be similar to the symptoms of flu. The common cold, on the other hand, may be brought on by any one of a number of different viruses, including rhinoviruses, parainfluenza, and seasonal coronaviruses. The influenza virus is the only pathogen that can cause the flu.

There is a significant difference between seasonal coronaviruses and SARS-COV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. As a result of the fact that the flu and the common cold share many of the same symptoms, it can be challenging to differentiate between the two based solely on the symptoms. In general, influenza is a more serious illness than the common cold, with symptoms that are typically more severe and have an earlier onset.

The common cold is typically less severe than the flu. People who have a cold are more likely than people who have the flu to have nasal congestion or runny nose symptoms. The common cold almost never develops into a more serious illness that requires medical attention, except for conditions such as pneumonia, and bacterial infections. Complications associated with the flu can be life-threatening.

Symptoms of Cold and Flu

Parameters

Symptoms of Cold

Symptoms of Flu

Onset of symptoms

Gradual

Abrupt

Fever/Aches/Chills

Rare/Mild

Common

Headache

Rare

Common

Fatigue

Moderate

Severe

Sore Throat

Common

Not usually

Blocked nose

Common

Not usually

Chest discomfort/Cough

Moderate

Common


Interesting Facts

  • Bird flu could be the next pandemic flu bug since it has produced an alarming epidemic in poultry and wild birds in Asia and Eastern Europe.

  • There's a common misconception that getting wet or chilled can make you sick.

  • As a result of exhaustion and emotional discomfort, or if you have allergies with nose and throat symptoms, you are more prone to develop a cold.

Key Features

  • Cold and flu are both caused by viruses.

  • The symptoms of a cold can be cleared up sooner than the flu.

  • There is a rise in body temperature in the flu but not in the cold.

  • Both flu and virus are contagious.

Important Questions

1) What is Type C flu?

Ans: Type C influenza induces infection but not normal flu symptoms. Both influenza A and B have been linked to Reye's syndrome, a potentially fatal complication that usually affects children and teens under the age of 18. Reye's syndrome has spread widely when people get influenza type B or chickenpox, but other viruses have also been linked to it. Aspirin raises the risk of Reye's syndrome, so people under the age of 18 shouldn't take it if they have signs of a virus.

2) What is cold?

Ans: A cold, also known as a common cold, is a respiratory illness that is very common and is typically caused by infections with rhinoviruses. Colds are a leading cause of missed work or school, with the typical U.S. adult having more than one per year. From childhood into adulthood, the vast majority of people will have experienced multiple incidences of the common cold. Cold-causing viruses usually get into the body through the nostrils and nasal passages.

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FAQs on Cold and Flu - A Detailed Summary

1. What are the differences between the common cold and the flu?

Common cold is caused by different types of viruses like rhinovirus and coronavirus, whereas flu is caused only by the influenza virus.

2. What are some antibiotics that are available to take during cold?

There is no treatment available for cold. It is not necessary to use antibiotics because they will get better on their own. 

3. What are the simple home remedies available for relief from colds?

Steaming with essential oils such as eucalyptus and peppermint oil, gargling with salt water, and consuming plenty of water.


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