A cold and the flu
A cold is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world. It is a mild viral infection of the upper respiratory ducts. It manifests in sneezing, runny nose, irritated and sore throat, coughing and headache. It usually disappears within 5 to 7 days without fever.
The flu is a viral disease similar to a cold, but the symptoms are more prominent and their onset is more sudden. The symptoms of the flu are: feeling cold, malaise, sudden fever (39°C and more), long lasting headache, muscle pain, sore throat and coughing.
There are three types of the flu virus: viruses A, B and C. The flu viruses keep changing which makes it impossible for organism to develop immunity. The A and B viruses case the flu with more severe symptoms and often lead to an epidemic, while the C virus cases a milder form of the flu, which goes away without severe symptoms. The flu symptoms commonly disappear after 7 days, but there can be complications such as: pneumonia, bronchitis, heart muscle inflammation, and sinus, ear and joint infections.
Cold and flu prevention measures
- the best way to prevent the flu is vaccination, which is implemented every year and is recommended for all people over 65, adults and children over 6 months of age with chronic heart and pulmonary diseases, diabetics, women planning pregnancy and health professionals.
- if you are allergic to a vaccine component, or currently suffering from an acute disease, have a cold or fever, you must not get vaccinated.
- avoid contacts with the sick.
- ventilate and moisten the rooms you spend time in, particularly if sick people spend time in them too.
- wash your hands frequently, particularly after handshakes or after touching objects used by a sick person, wash used dishes and disinfect working surfaces at work.
- keep your hands away from your nose and ears, if you cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief, and then discard the handkerchief in a trash bin.
- avoid stressful situations and rest sufficiently.
- avoid crowds during periods when there is an increased number of the sick.
- take sufficient quantities of necessary vitamins and minerals. Enrich your food with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Treating the flu and cold
- if you have a runny or blocked nose, use nose drops or sprays, inhale teas or etheric oils of camomile, timian, mint, eucalyptus or pine as often as you can.
- Take plenty of liquid and hot beverages.
- Moisten the rooms you spend time in.
- If the symptoms are severe, rest.
- Fever can be mitigated by drugs based on paracetamol, acetilsalic acid, ibuprofen, which successfully mollify the symptoms of headache and muscle pain.
- Cough can be treated by taking anti-coughing syrups or those for coughing out (mostly of herbal origin) - apart from syrups, pharmacies also provide tablets, sizzling tablets and powders for making solutions which are effective in treating the coughing symptoms.
- Oriblets and pastilles melted in the mouth are an excellent solution for mildly sore and irritated throat.
- Take vitamin C based products and other multivitamin combinations, and immunity boosting products, for example those based on propolis, echinacea, and zinc.
- antibiotics are not used to treat a cold or the flu, because they are viral diseases, and they should never be taken without consultations with a doctor. In exceptional cases, when the flu symptomsexacerbate into bacterial pneumonia, or infection of sinuses or ear, you doctor will include antibiotics in therapy.
- If the symptoms of a cold or the flu persist or worsen despite the therapy (such as fever which does not go away in two to three days, if there are severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting movement inability) or if you are a chronic lung or heart patient, always go to the doctor to avoid possible complications which may occur due to untimely treatment.
Pharmacies provide a wide spectrum of products for prevention and treatment of the flu and cold. At the onset of the first symptoms, go to our nearest pharmacy and consult the pharmacist who will give you adequate advice and recommend a product from the available assortment.
B. Sc. ph Vesna Todić, coordinator of pharmacy