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How Is A Common Cold Different Than A Common Flu And Can A Warm Drink Actually Treat The Symptoms?

Posted Feb 11 2009 2:58pm

How You Can Tell the Difference Between an Everyday Cold and the Normal Flu

The average cold and the flu are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by uncommon types of viruses. Flu ailments normally come on unbelievably fast (within 3-6 hours) and involve a fever, sore muscles, dry cough, and extreme lethargy. A common cold symptoms are less severe and a person will have a congested and runny nose, productive cough, slight tiredness, and limited body soreness.

Can A Warm Liquid Honestly Help Treat The Symptoms?

Like ice cubes for a sunburn or hard candies for a cough, a cup of hot tea with lemon and honey is an age-old remedy for nasal congestion, sneezing and a cough.

Hot soups, it is said, help loosen mucous in the chest and sinuses, making them easier to expel and ultimately clearing up chest congestion. The beverages are also meant to reverse dehydration.

But only recently have researchers examined whether or not the effect is real. In December, researchers at the Common Cold Center at Cardiff University in Britain looked at whether hot fluids helped to relieve the ailments of 30 persons suffering from the average flu or an average cold any better than fluids at room temperature. They found that the contrast was distinctive.

The hot drinks provided instantaneous and prolonged relief from symptoms of runny nose, an irritating cough, sneezing, sore throat, being cold and drowsiness, they said, and the exact liquids at room temperature only provided relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough and sneezing.

As this was the first study to look specifically at the effects of hot liquids on cold and flu symptoms, others have looked at hot foods like chicken soup and had similar results.

Chicken soup also contains cold-fighting compounds that help destroy mucus in the lungs and lessen inflammation.

The Actual Truth

Scientific study confirms that hot beverages can decrease congested chest and other cold and flu symptoms.

Will Vitamin C Really Help an average cold?

For many years, believers in vitamin C have said taking this vitamin supplement can nip a cold in the bud. The claim is partially triggered by lab studies that find vitamin C affects resistance to virus in animal studies.

But in humans? Researchers disagree on this slightly but lean toward the negative. Some say vitamin C has not been proven to lessen the duration of an average cold. One 2007 study showed that if vitamin C is taken after a cold begins, it doesn’t shorten the cold or make it less severe. But when it is taken daily as a preventive treatment, not just after that first cough, it can very slightly reduce cold duration, by about 8% in adults and by about 14% in children.

Preventing the flu with Antivirals

Not only can antivirals help treat the flu, they can also help stop you from getting it. For example, if your child is diagnosed with the flu, an antiviral can help to protect you from getting this virus. Be sure to talk to your doctor about prevention so when that time comes that someone close to you has the flu, you can protect yourself.

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