From the Doctor’s desk…

What is A COLD?

The “common cold”, is a highly contagious, viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system (throat and nose etc.)The disease is generally mild and self-limiting. Patients with common colds often seek professional medical help or use over the counter drugs, and may even miss work days.

What is flu?

Flu (or influenza) is caused by the influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, sinuses, upper airways and lungs. It is mostly a mild disease in healthy children, young adults, and middle-aged people.It is completely different from the common cold virus.

It however may be severe in the following:

  • Those over the age of 60
  • Children less than 5 years of age
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with underlying heart or lung conditions, including asthma
  • Individuals whose immune condition may be compromised including those diagnosed with:
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Autoimmune illness
  • Malignancy
  • Receiving immunosuppressive or chemotherapy

In all the above Influenza vaccination is highly recommended. In those groups influenza vaccine is often administered with vaccine to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia.

Also remember to prevent it by:

  • Vaccination against influenza with a flu vaccine is recommended for high-risk groups, such as children (especially form from 6 months of age to 8 years of age), pregnant women (throughout their pregnancy) and the elderly.
  • Since influenza spreads through air and contact with contaminated surfaces, it is important to persuade people to cover their mouths while sneezing and to wash their hands regularly.
  • It passes from human to human all year round and never goes away completely.
  • Because people are indoors more often during the winter, they are in close contact more often, and this promotes transmission from person to person.
  • Cold temperatures lead to drier air, which prevents the body from effectively expelling virus particles.
  • The virus may linger longer on exposed surfaces (doorknobs, countertops, etc.) in colder temperatures.
  • The virus is most commonly found on hands due to coughing, sneezing, etc. wash your hands regularly!

Comparison of Cold vs Influenza

Flu Comparisson

Stay in bed for a few days to rest. Take action, don’t be neglectful:

  • Ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter drugs to relieve some of the symptoms. Aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen may help to relieve fever, muscle aches and headache, while decongestants may help to treat nasal congestion.
  • Suppressive cough mixtures may help clear up the dry cough.
  • Pregnant mothers should be cautious about taking drugs and children should not receive aspirin.
  • Increase your intake of Vitamin C to 1000-2000 mg a day. Vitamin C may reduce the severity and duration of symptoms.
  • Try aromatherapy oils like lavender, grapefruit, rosemary and tea tree oil in your bath.
  • Try zinc lozenges to soothe a sore throat.
  • Make tea with fresh or dried sage leaves simmered in boiling water, with a teaspoon of honey. You can also gargle with sage tea.
  • Chicken soup may soothe a sore throat, clear clogged passageways, and hydrate a thirsty body.
  • Consult your doctor if the flu is severe or if you show any signs of a secondary infection (e.g. difficulty breathing or earache), if you are in the high-risk group, or your fever persists longer than three days.

Contact HSP Group for your flu vaccine on 0861 873 477 or info@hspgroup.co.za

Written by Dr. Simmy Waner

Edited by Belinda van Wyk