Monday, June 18, 2007

Cold and Flu, what's the difference? Part One

Common cold is an infection of the respiratory tract with symptoms including sneezing, coughing, sore throat and a blocked and/or runny rose, and may be accompanied by a mild fever.

It is an interesting fact, that there are more than 200 different viruses that can cause the common colds. They usually last for 5-7 days, and accompanying coughs usually last 1-2 weeks longer than other symptoms. These colds rarely cause serious harm, and children with colds can go to childcare or school as long as they feel well enough to participate.

Bear in mind colds are not flu. Flu (Influenza) is a serious illness. It usually start suddenly with a high fever and you may feel sick enough to stay in bed. Other symptoms may include irritation in the throat and lungs, dry cough, shivering, hot and cold sweating and body/muscle ache.

How are common colds spread?

They are usually caught from other people, can be passed on through touching hands or objects or by breathing in droplets from sneezes or coughs. Hence you may find your children get this quite a lot from school and seem never-ending. To boost their immune system, cod liver oil is recommended as their daily supplemetary intake.

To help prevent the spread of colds, encourage your children to:

  • cover their mouths and nose when coughing or sneezing

  • keep hands away from eyes, nose and mouth

  • use tissues to blow their nose and throw away after use

  • wash their hands, particularly before handling and eating food after blowing their nose

  • avoid sharing dining utensils and cutlery

So, how do you treat a common cold?

Common colds need common sense, not antibiotics. Common colds, flu and most coughs are caused by viruses, and will usually get better on their own. Antibiotics work only on bacterial infections and have no effect on viruses. They won't help a cold get better faster, won't stop a cold from getting worse, and won't stop the cold from spreading to other people. Remember, using antibiotics when they are not needed may hinder their effectiveness when they are needed, and may cause unwanted side effects like diarrhoea, allergic reactions such as rashes or urticaria, thrush and stomach upsets.

As a general guideline, mucus from runny nose or phlegm from coughing that is clear usually indicates viral infection, and decongestant or anti-histamines can be taken to relief the symptoms. Dimetapp Infant Drops contains a decongestant which assists in drying a runny nose and reducing sinus and nasal congestion, and also an anti-histamine which provides relief of itchy watery eyes and sneezing. This may cause drowsiness in children and a great relief for parents where everyone gets a good night's sleep.

The above preparation can only be given to infants from 1 month of age, and can be given together with paracetamol preparations. Cough suppressants are not recommended for children under 2 years of age.

Encourage children to drink their usual amount of fluid and rest a lot.

I'll make another post on how to relief a blocked nose and how to clear mucus.

Disclaimer: This information is not to be used as medical advice or substituted for treatment by your health care provider


LiL'deviL said...

Thanks for the clarification. Never know the difference between flu and cold.

Sweetpea said...

no problems. just sharing what i know :)

Health Freak Mommy said...

Tks 4 d info. BTW, r u a pharmacist?

Sweetpea said...

HFM - no am not, haha. but these are the basic knowledge most pharmacy assistants will learn over time, especially when you have an old hen like me :P