Find below answers to common questions, validated by doctors. Please note that any decision must be made in consultation with a doctor.
Cold/Flu: A respiratory infection leading to nose blockage and discharge.
Fever: A higher than normal(98.6o F or 37o C) body temperature in a resting adult.
(A)ALLERGY or INFECTION:
If there is dry cough, running nose or sore throat but no fever and no mucus, then you may have an allergy.
If cough is productive with green phlegm, then is usually is an infection.
(B) COLD or FLU- Difference between 'Cold' and 'Flu/Fever':
If the illness began slowly with a scratchy throat, cough, running nose with possible low grade fever no more than 100oC for adults and 101oC for children, and the person is able to do most daily tasks, then in all likelihood it is a cold and not a flu.
But if a high grade 102o to 104oC fever comes suddenly and you are unable to do your daily tasks due to extreme weakness, then it usually is a flu. If you also experience vomiting and diarrhea, then it is a flu as that never happens with just a cold.
(C) Difference between 'Viral' and 'Bacterial' infection:
A bacterial infection involves redness, swelling or pain in ONE part of the body. Example: A throat infection will have more pain in the throat.
A viral infection involves MULTIPLE parts of the body at the same time. Example: Running 'nose', Cough 'throat' and pain in 'body'.
When to see a doctor (General Physician / ENT):
You have more than 101°F fever for more than 3 days even after following home remedies.
If you have difficulty breathing or cough brings up heavy mucus.
If cough persists even after 5 days of following home remedies.
Cold/flu/viral fever usually lasts from 3 to 7 days and goes away if you follow home remedies diligently. Best way to treat cold is to get as much of bed rest as possible and drink plenty of fluids, especially fruit juices, sweet lime, warm water, coconut water.
Ginger and Tulsi tea: Grind an inch of ginger and 6 tulsi (basil) leaves. Boil this in 2 cups of water for at least 5 minutes. You may add a pinch of black pepper also. Strain the particles from the liquid, add jaggery for taste and let it cool down. Drink this twice a day before meals for a week.
Ginger Honey: For cough, ginger is an excellent remedy. Take half teaspoon of honey with equal amount of ginger juice 3 times a day.
Garlic capsules/cloves also help in cases of severe cold. Refer to more superfoods for quick recovery: Click here
Inhale steam after putting 5 drops of 'Eucalyptus oil' in water to control nasal inflammation.
For a week, avoid dairy products like cheese, milk, pizza and cold drinks. Avoid eating out. Eat as much of raw fruits and vegetable salads till you recover.
If fever is present, ensure complete bed rest till temperature is close to normal. To bring down body temperature quickly, keep putting wet towel- soaked in cool water -on the forehead and arms.
Vitamins A, C and E provide the immunity to fight against cold/flu. For foods rich in these vitamins: Click here
If unable to take bath, sponge the body with lukewarm water as it helps bring down tiredness. Never use cold water during fever for bathing purpose.
For patients having a bacterial infection or productive cough, give half teaspoon of turmeric powder with warm milk or water just before going to bed.
Avoid taking too many medicines. Wash out toxins by using the home remedies mentioned above.
Take Paracetamol 2 to 3 times in 24 hours for relief from aches and pain. Taking Vitamin C also helps.
Inhale steam and gargle with warm salted water 3 times a day.
If diagnosed with 'Bacterial Infection' or for productive cough that brings up thick mucus, an expectorant cough syrup along with antibiotics may be given for at least 5 days to fight productive green phlegm and infections.
If 'Viral Infection', taking rest is important. Do NOT take any antibiotic as they don't help in viral infections. Use antibiotics only for bacterial infection.
If you are experiencing severe dry/productive cough, also check details by Clicking here.
Tests for detection:
In severe cases with accompanying cough, chest X-Ray may be done to check for congestion.
Blood test may be prescribed to check allergies or infection.
Infection spreads when infected persons cough, sneeze, or even talk around others.
Usually caused by touching nose or eyes using unwashed/infected hands.
Intake of hot and cold food/drinks around the same time.
Lack of sleep and inadequate intake of water.
Is it contagious:
Yes. Cold/Flu is contagious. One can get a flu even if someone is 6 feet away.
How to prevent it:
During winters, one has a tendency to take less water. Drink plenty of water and stay indoors on cold, windy days. If you go out, wear layers of clothes and cover your head/ears.
Take 'Paracetamol' for fever. Taking 'Mulethi' (Licorice) with ginger once daily also helps increase white blood cells, improves immunity and reduces chances of getting a viral.
Do not expose yourself to quick temperature change like going out in extreme heat of sun from a chilled air conditioned room. Stay in moderate temperature for a minute before venturing out.
Common cold is infectious. Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds if you are in close contact with people suffering from common cold.
Avoid touching your nose and eyes with unwashed hands as that may trigger a viral infection.
Do not take hot tea/coffee and cold drinks around the same time.
Wipe the phone and keyboard with disinfectant wipes before working on somebody else's device.
Children gain immunity against cold/flu over years as they grow. So do not worry and focus on preventive measures.
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