In this corner: the common cold. In the other corner: the flu. How do you tell them apart? And which packs the stronger punch?
Like any prize fighter, both can knock you out for a while. And yet, there?s also very different ? with varying symptoms, durations and potential health implications. What?s the easiest way to differentiate them ? and most importantly, help prevent them during the colder winter months?
The common cold is just that ? extremely commonplace. The leading cause of doctor?s office visits, this seasonal respiratory infection is blamed for approximately 22 million lost school days each year alone. Initial symptoms typically include a runny nose, sneezing and congestion, followed by a cough and sore throat a few days later. Not only do these conditions make you feel like you?ve been hit with a solid left hook, but they?re also very susceptible to being spread to others during the onset of your cold, so be careful to stay clear of others when you?re particularly contagious.
The influenza, or flu as it?s more popularly known, is in it for a longer bout. Like the common cold that may lay you low for a few days, the flu is an upper respiratory illness. But unlike its less-potent counterpart which can occur at any time, the flu is generally seasonal ? occurring from fall to spring of the following year, and especially prevalent during the winter months. It comes on more swiftly, and can linger for more than a week.
The flu is caused by a virus (in fact, three of them: the influenza A, B and C viruses), and if unaddressed, can lead to pneumonia. As with the common cold, flu symptoms can include congestion, cough and a sore throat. Where they differ is in the fever, headaches, body and muscle aches, fatigue, and chest discomfort that typically accompany a seasonal flu.
As Benjamin Franklin once eloquently stated, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And no one believes that more than we do.. To create a foundation for optimal health, he advocates consuming a diet rich in lean protein and fresh fruits and vegetable; being physically active; minimizing stress; and taking every opportunity to nourish mind, body and spirit.
To help stave off the common cold and flu, we can?t overemphasize the importance of frequent, thorough hand washing to minimize the risk of contagion. We also recommend or patients ( not everybody) taking plenty of vitamins ? in particular, adequate amounts of vitamins C and D, as well as zinc along with copper, as zinc taken alone might block copper absorption. We also suggest our patients ( not everybody ) addressing any sources of chronic inflammation (such as allergies, sinuses, gut and teeth) that may compromise your immune system. And as someone who has not been sick for at least five years thanks to fortifying his immune system with clean, healthy living, we clearly practice what we preaches.
If you do happen to get sick regardless of the proactive preventative measures that you?ve taken, our prescription for our patients ( not everybody ) might be the same whether you?re knocked out by the common cold or flu. Stay in bed, get plenty of rest and good quality sleep, stay well-hydrated, drink hot tea with lemon to soothe your raw throat, treat yourself to the age-old comfort food remedy of homemade chicken soup, and reduce your stress levels to ensure you have enough of the cortisol hormone in your system to suppress inflammation. Please keep in mind that you should make your health decisions only after consulting with your doctor, not on your own.
For more information about how to address the common cold or flu from a holistic perspective, schedule a consultation at our Brooklyn office (718-382-9200) or Great Neck office (516-467-0253.)