Flu and The Common Cold
The Indian Monsoon sees everything from minor dust storms to violent thunderstorms. It always comes suddenly; one week we’re staring at the skies, shying away from the sun bearing down on us like a curse, and the next we get respite in the form of a tree-shaking, road-cracking storm. It is this surprise that gets our body confused and makes us all so vulnerable to the two most annoying of all ailments: the flu, and the common cold.
Are they different?
As many as six major symptoms of both the flu and common cold overlap: Fever, Fatigue and body aches, Headache, Runny nose, Nasal congestion (stuffy nose), and Cough. However, the cough is a lot more prominent during flu and almost absent during a cold. Also, the flu lasts a couple of weeks as whereas a cold is usually over within the week.
Can they be prevented?
Both the common cold and the flu are transmitted by aerosols. This essentially means that when an infected person sneezes or coughs, the virus is ejected into the air and hangs there in droplets to land on a new victim.
The infection can also linger on solid, non porous objects like doorknobs, desks, and all sorts of handles, which makes hand-to-hand contact a very real possibility. The prevention of both these common ailments thus lies in hygienic practices.
Frequent hand washing is the prevention, but face masks can help prevent airborne viruses from entering your nasal passages. A well balanced diet can cure or prevent most common illnesses, especially when combined with 6-8 glasses of water every day. A handkerchief should be carried at all times along with a sanitizer to avoid the transmittance of germs from one surface to another.
How can they be cured?
Quite simply, they can’t. The root infection cannot be removed from the system, but the pain and discomfort arising from it can be made to subside.
For a fever, take some cold compress, which is a cloth soaked in icy cold water and spread across the forehead, eyes and face in various slots. If there is a sore throat, gargling hot, slightly salted water will help. For a cold, do some steaming to clear the nasal passage and get instant relief. For body ache, get a warm massage on the aggravated muscles and take a couple of hours rest through it all.
Household analgesics like ibuprofen (Advil; Brufen) and paracetamol (Tylenol, Crocin) can relieve the aches and pains. Aspirin is not recommended for children and teenagers as it is quite strong. Home remedies like ginger tea, green tea and soup always help to relieve the discomfort, especially when taken along with fruits, vegetables and wholesome grains.