The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that adults suffer from an average of two or three colds and flu each year, while children suffer from much more than that.
Catching the cold or flu viruses may make us feel terrible and exhausted for days. However, with the correct knowledge and precautions, we may lessen our vulnerability and strengthen our defenses against these bothersome infections.
You don’t have to search for the treatment as effective methods against the common cold and flu treatment will be discussed in our article here.
Difference Between Cold and Flu
Because of their same symptoms, distinguishing between the common cold and the flu can be difficult. Although both are contagious respiratory viruses, the flu often causes more severe symptoms and more serious consequences. Effective management needs to have an awareness of the distinctions.
You can head to our article here for complete details of all the symptoms of cold and flu and their differences.
Prevention Against Cold And Flu
As with any other infection, the easiest way to avoid catching a cold or the flu is to take preventative measures.
Get the Flu Shot.
American health officials recommend yearly flu shots for everyone six months and older. This is the most effective method for staying well and protecting others from illness.
According to CDC estimates, vaccinated individuals are 62% less likely to contract influenza and far less likely to require medical treatment if they do contract influenza.
The vaccination can decrease flu symptoms’ intensity or duration if you become ill. The flu vaccination is safe and effective, with few, if any, adverse side effects.
September or October, at the onset of flu season, is the optimal time to get vaccinated. Nonetheless, receiving the vaccine in December or even later can still be advantageous, as influenza activity peaks can occur as late as February.
But unfortunately, there are no vaccinations yet for 200-plus virus types that cause the common cold.
Practice Proper Handwashing
Regular hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer will help keep you safe, particularly after breathing, sneezing, or touching the face. Cold and flu viruses can live on human skin for almost 8 hours.
Avoid Infected People
If you want to avoid getting sick, avoid people who already have it, as these viruses are very contagious and can spread via cough or sneeze droplets, contact, or the same environment. Touching your nose, eyes, and mouth with unclean hands is discouraged, even if you are with them. Viruses that cause illness frequently enter the body through these entry points.
Use a Humidifier
Dry air is expected in the fall and winter, making it easier for the flu virus to survive in the environment and spread. Scientists investigating the relationship between the flu virus and humidity in the air have determined that the virus flourishes best when the relative humidity is either greater than 98% or between 0% and 50%. Dr. Linsey Marr, a Virginia Tech researcher, suggests using a humidifier to maintain humidity levels between 50 and 60 percent (but not over 60 percent, as this can lead to mold growth) to give the influenza virus the slightest chance of survival.
like many other ailments, smokers are more likely to contract respiratory infections like the common cold and influenza than nonsmokers. It’s also possible that smokers’ symptoms will be more severe or persist longer. Giving up cigarettes also has a plethora of additional advantages. Learn the best steps to quit smoking in a dedicated article here.
The danger of contracting infectious illnesses is just one of many advantages linked to regular physical exercise that has been uncovered via scientific investigations(1) (2). Aim for 30-minute sessions five days a week at a moderate intensity. Walking, running, cycling, swimming, and aerobic exercises all fall within this category.
Staying hydrated is essential to prevent cold and flu viruses from entering your nasal passages. Although other beverages contain water, giving your body water directly is preferable so your cells can use it immediately.
The recommended daily water intake is eight glasses, but science suggests a more accurate amount of 15 cups for men and 11 cups for women. If sick, maintain or slightly exceed the recommended amount to replenish lost fluids.
Avoid overdue drinking, as this can lead to hyponatremia, where the body holds onto too much water and dilutes the sodium in the blood.
Best Strategies For Cold And Flu Treatment
Applying the most effective techniques supported by research and medical expertise is the key to alleviating pain and hastening healing.
There is a reason why the common cold is termed “common”: there are scores of viruses circulating in your community at any given time that can cause a cold.
Although there is no cure for the common cold, there are treatments that can help alleviate symptoms. These consist of:
- Getting enough sleep
- Gargling with mild salt water to soothe a sore throat
- Steam inhalation, either in a shower or in general, can help soothe symptoms. Adding menthol or eucalyptus oil to the vapor can increase its therapeutic effects.
- Using a vaporizer or humidifier to clear a nasal obstruction
- A small dab of mentholated salve applied under the nose can help to open airways and soothe irritated skin at the nose’s base. Menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor all contain moderate numbing components that may alleviate the discomfort of a rubbed nose. However, only apply it externally, under your nostril, and not internally.
While vapor rubs, including menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor, have been shown to help children and adults with cold symptoms sleep better, some individuals may find them annoying due to their strong scent.
- Hot liquids alleviate nasal congestion, prevent dehydration, and soothe the irritated membranes lining the nose and pharynx.
Additionally, over-the-counter medications can alleviate cold symptoms.
- Pain: Acetaminophen and NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium effectively alleviate moderate to severe pain and inflammation.
- Cough and Mucus: A cough might be beneficial if you have chest congestion since it loosens and expels extra mucus and phlegm. Cough suppressants like dextromethorphan and expectorants like guaifenesin can help if coughing is causing discomfort or preventing sleep. These cough suppressants reduce the reflex to cough, while expectorants dilute mucus in the airway, making it less of a struggle to cough up.
- Nasal Congestion: To relieve congestion, nasal sprays containing pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, and oxymetazoline constrict enlarged blood vessels in the nose can be used.
Treatment for Flu
If you test positive for influenza, the healthcare practitioner may prescribe you over-the-counter medication to relieve flu symptoms. The detail of such treatments is given.
Antibiotics Are of No Use
Antibiotics are believed to be a cold and flu treatment, reduce symptoms, and even cure some people. Antibiotics can be used to get rid of bacteria, and physicians do not believe antibiotics are effective in flu and cold treatment. Infections produced by viruses, including the common cold and the flu, cannot be treated with antibiotics. So one should not use them.
Catching a cold and another respiratory infection, such as a bacterial one, is possible. This bacterial infection has been overlaid. It is easier to get a bacterial illness after exposure to a virus because viruses can alter the number of beneficial bacteria in the respiratory system. Antibiotics are required if you develop a secondary bacterial infection, such as pneumonia or a sinus infection.
It’s best to hold off on antibiotic use unless absolutely necessary. You won’t just avoid the unpleasant side effects of antibiotics; you’ll also reduce the likelihood that your body may get resistant to them.
While some treatments for a cold and the flu are similar, there is an essential differentiation: certain antiviral medications are used to treat the flu but not the common cold. The CDC suggests the following viral treatments:
- Oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu)
- Zanamivir (Relenza)
- Peramivir (Rapivab)
- Baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza)
These medications may benefit those with severe diseases or those in high-risk populations such as people older than 65, lung disease, pregnant women, and weakened immune systems.
To maximize their efficacy, antiviral drugs for the flu should be used as soon as possible after the first symptoms of the disease appear (preferably within 2 days). Early treatment with these drugs has been demonstrated to lessen symptoms, shorten the duration of illness, and prevent inevitable significant flu-related consequences (such as hospitalization).
Remember that the medications must be used under the supervision of a pharmacist or healthcare professional, and the dose may need to be modified.
Eat the Right Foods
A well-balanced and nutrient-dense diet can support the immune system and general health.
Some research-based nutrients to consume for cold and flu treatment are,
- Vitamin C (65-90mg/day): This antioxidant increases the immune system and may help reduce the duration and severity of cold and flu symptoms.
- Zinc (8-11 mg/day): It has been demonstrated that the mineral zinc, essential for immune function, can shorten the duration and lessen the intensity of cold symptoms. However, zinc can cause adverse effects such as dizziness and other digestive issues and may interact with other medications.
- Echinacea: There have been studies on the effectiveness of this herbal supplement in boosting the immune system and reducing the duration of colds. (1) (2)
- Elderberry: Antiviral behaviors have been shown in elderberry extract, suggesting it may mitigate the severity of flu symptoms but however doesn’t cure the cold or flu and only reduce symptoms.
- Ginger & Garlic (1-2 cloves and 1-3 gram ginger): Inflammation is a common side effect of the common cold and flu, but garlic’s and ginger’s anti-inflammatory qualities may aid. Despite limited data, a single study concluded that garlic supplements may improve immune cell function and reduce the severity of influenza symptoms.
- Honey (1 tablespoon): Honey’s antimicrobial qualities and ability to calm an itching throat and cough make it a go-to remedy. Honey may be more beneficial than over-the-counter drugs for treating cold and flu symptoms, according to an analysis published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine in August 2020.
- African geranium: The roots contain active compounds supporting the immune system, antiviral and antibacterial properties, and reducing respiratory inflammation. Some people experience relief from cough, congestion, and sore throat symptoms.
The scientific data on the usefulness of African geranium for cold and flu alleviation is still limited and not as broad as other traditional cold and flu medicines, such as echinacea or elderberry, but it shows promise. If you have any preexisting medical issues or are on any other drugs, it is recommended that you take it as additional treatment and check with a healthcare expert before adding it to your cold and flu treatment plan.
Other than these, a healthy balanced diet with many antioxidants and probiotics is suggested for overall health.
But remember, these nutrients may support the immune system and aid in treating colds and viruses, but they are not a replacement for medical treatment. You must consult a healthcare professional for a thorough diagnosis and treatment if you have cold or flu symptoms.
Aside from getting plenty of rest and drinking plenty of fluids, over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help reduce fever and pain.
Due to the self-limiting nature of the common cold and influenza, therapy focuses on alleviating troubling symptoms, such as cough, sore throat, nasal obstruction, and fever. There is no need to act if the symptoms do not cause significant discomfort. Cold and flu symptoms, such as fever, are the body’s method of eliminating the virus.
That is why you are not required to visit a doctor when you have mild symptoms and feel better within a day to two. However, complications may occasionally arise and necessitate medical attention. For details, refer to “When to seek medical attention” in our other article.
Prevent the Spreading of a Cold or the Flu.
You can help stop the transmission of cold and flu viruses by doing the following things.
- Maintain proper hand hygiene by washing hands for 20 seconds.
- Always cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing but not with your hands. Coughing or sneezing into your hands transfers the virus to your hands, which can then be transferred to other surfaces. If you need to cough or sneeze, please use a tissue. If you need to cough and don’t have a tissue handy, use the hollow area of your elbow or armpit.
- Keep your hands away from your face. Millions of cold and flu viruses may live on your hands without causing illness if kept away from your respiratory system. Breaking the habit of touching your face can be challenging, but forming a routine and thinking of your hands as dirty all the time, except after washing them, can be beneficial.
- Stay Home. Staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone unless traveling for medical treatment or other requirements is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for those with the flu or a flu-like illness.
We can lessen the likelihood of getting sick and speed up our recovery time from colds and flu if we do by practicing excellent hygiene, strengthening our immune systems, and getting medical help when necessary.
The most effective method for preventing severe influenza is to receive the annual flu vaccine and initiate antiviral treatment within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. No vaccines or antiviral treatments are available for viruses that cause the common cold.