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How to Stay Healthy this Cold and Flu Season

With summer coming to an end, we are fast approaching cold and flu season. Here are our top tips to stay healthy this flu season and, if you do happen to get sick, how to decrease the duration and severity of your illness.

Firstly, what is the cold and flu? How are they different?

The common cold is a mild upper respiratory illness caused by a variety of different viruses. It is the most frequent illness in the developed world. Due to their frequency and economic burden, significant research has been conducted on how to reduce their frequency, duration, and severity. Common signs and symptoms are:

  • Rhinitis (irritation/inflammation of mucous membrane inside nasal passages)

  • Nasal congestion, discharge, obstruction, sneezing

  • Headache or sinus pressure

  • Sore throat

  • Cough

  • Malaise (feeling of being unwell)

  • Low-grade fever, more commonly in children

  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye), sometimes

The flu (short for “influenza”) is an acute respiratory illness caused by Influenza A or Influenza B viruses, and spreads seasonally worldwide. For the general, healthy population the flu will be an uncomplicated illness resolving in 2-5 days. However, the flu can be potentially life-threatening for certain populations, such as those who are immuno-compromised, the elderly, etc. Signs and symptoms can be similar to the common cold, and can vary widely from person to person making identification of the flu more difficult. Flu symptoms may include:

  • Nasal congestion, discharge, obstruction, sneezing

  • Non-productive cough

  • Sore throat

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Myalgia (muscle pain)

  • Anorexia (poor appetite)

  • Fatigue, weakness, dizziness

  • Vomiting and diarrhea, more commonly in children