Cold and flu

Cold and flu: differences, causes and symptoms, natural remedies

Cold and flu

The most common viral diseases of the respiratory system, cold and flu, have common symptoms and can be easily confused with each other. However, flu symptoms are more severe and can lead to lung complications. Natural remedies help relieve cold and flu symptoms and accelerate healing.

Cold and flu are two conditions that manifest in the human respiratory system. Although they have relatively similar symptoms, the two diseases should not be confused with each other, because they have slightly different causes and treatments. Moreover, the flu can cause certain complications in the lungs or bacterial super-infection.

Similarities and differences between cold and flu

Both the flu and the cold are respiratory conditions. The most common symptoms are cough, stuffy nose, sore throat. However, cold and flu are caused by different viruses and usually the symptoms of the flu are more severe than with simple colds. The flu is most often associated with fever and muscle aches, and the symptoms last up to two weeks, while the cold is overcome by the body in about 7 days.

A stuffy nose and sneezing are more common in colds, while the flu can also cause nausea or vomiting. Both the flu and the common cold are treated with medications that relieve symptoms. In addition, in severe cases of flu may be given antiviral drugs, with a prescription. In both cases, there are several natural remedies that can relieve symptoms and speed healing.

Cold – causes and symptoms

The common cold is an infection of the upper respiratory tract, usually caused by a rhinovirus. It mainly affects the upper airways and usually passes in about 5-7 days, without the need for special treatment. Colds are most common in the spring and winter months. Among the most common symptoms are:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Abundant nasal secretions
  • Sneezing
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Mild fatigue

Cold symptoms are treated with medications and natural remedies and disappear within a week. Doctors recommend bed rest and intense hydration. In some cases, when the patient's immunity is weakened, complications can occur, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. In such situations, a specialized medical consultation is needed.

Flu – causes and symptoms

Flue is an infection caused by an influenza virus. There are three types of influenza viruses: influenza A viruses, influenza B viruses and influenza C viruses. Influenza A and B viruses have several strains and circulate year after year, causing flu epidemics in some cases. The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get the flu vaccine before the start of the flu season (early fall). The symptoms of the flu are similar to those of colds, but somewhat more severe.

  • High fever (between 38 and 40 degrees)
  • Intense fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Heavy sweating
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Vomiting, nausea and sometimes diarrhea (especially in children).

Unlike the symptoms of a cold that gradually sets in, the onset of the flu is sudden. In the case of the flu, more severe complications can occur, especially if the patient already suffers from another chronic condition such as diabetes, a cardiovascular disease, asthma or kidney disease. In this case it is good to consult a doctor at the first symptoms of the flu.

Natural remedies for cold and flu

Being viral infections, neither cold nor flu is treated with antibiotics. They are prescribed only by a doctor, in case of complications or bacterial infections associated with the two conditions. Instead, the symptoms of cold and flu can be successfully combated with the help of natural remedies.


Water and herbal teas or clean chicken soup are recommended in case of cold and flu, because the body loses a lot of fluids and becomes dehydrated. You need to drink plenty of liquids when you have symptoms of a cold or flu.

Vitamin C

About vitamin C several studies have shown that it reduces the duration of the cold. Consumption of vitamin C strengthens the immune system, so that the body becomes more resistant in the fight against the virus. Good sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, blackcurrants, kiwis, bell pepper, tomatoes or broccoli.


Honey is a wonder food with antiviral and antimicrobial properties, which relieves sore throats from colds and flu and supports the activity of the immune system. In addition, studies have shown that honey also treats cough in children and adults.

Gargle with salt water

Salt has anti-congestive properties and it is used successfully in relieving sore throats. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and use the liquid obtained for gargling.


Ginger root has been known for centuries for its healing properties. A few slices of fresh ginger are put in hot water and help relieve sore throat and cough. Ginger can fight the nausea that is sometimes associated with the flu.


This plant is rich in allicin, a compound with antimicrobial properties can reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms. Some studies claim that regular consumption of garlic even prevents illness.


Echinacea plant and root have been used for more than 400 years to treat infections. Echinacea is rich in flavonoids, which support the proper functioning of the immune system. Consuming echinacea in the form of tea or supplements can reduce the duration of a cold.


This mineral is very important for the immune system, because it supports the production of white blood cells, the soldiers of the immune system. Zinc relieves the symptoms of cold and flu and helps the body fight the virus or slow down its action. You can consume zinc in the form of food or dietary supplements. Good sources of zinc are red meat, shellfish, lentils, chickpeas, beans, nuts, seeds, dairy and eggs.

Star anise

This star-shaped spice contains oseltamvir extract. This is the active substance in the antiviral medicine Tamiflu, which is used to treat the flu. Anise tea is very effective in treating flu symptoms.

Herbal teas

Several herbs can be infused to treat cold and flu symptoms. Among the most effective are turmeric, ginger, cloves.

Essential oils

Certain types of essential oils extracted from plants protect against viruses and bacteria. Tea tree oil is the best example. Studies have shown that this oil slows down or even stops the rate of the virus from multiplying. Other herbal oils that help treat cold and flu are the oils of cinnamon, mint, eucalyptus, geranium, thyme, oregano and lemon. Be careful, the essential oils are not to be swallowed but are for external use.

In conclusion, cold and flu are viral diseases that pass in 1-2 weeks, depending on the severity of the infection. Natural remedies can relieve the symptoms of cold and flu and can speed up the healing process by supporting the immune system in the fight against the virus. If the symptoms of a cold or flu persist or worsen, it is recommended that you consult a doctor. If fever occurs and you have a history of chronic conditions, consult your family doctor from the first symptoms.

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