Colds and The Flu

Nicole A. McCarthy, MD MSc
Reviewed by:

Nicole A. McCarthy, MD MSc

Nicole A. McCarthy, MD MSc
Reviewed by:

Nicole A. McCarthy, MD MSc


A Cold or The Flu?

By:  Narda

October 20. 2021

We might think they are pretty much the same, we are wrong.


Flu or influenza and the common cold are not the same.  Although both are contagious respiratory illnesses, they are caused by different viruses.

The flu is caused by influenza viruses only, and it can affect your entire respiratory system—nose, throat and lungs. its season runs approximately from November through March, but there are always exceptions and flu cases have been reported as early as October and as late as May.

While the flu can have serious associated complications such as pneumonia and bacterial infections that can make hospitalization necessary, especially in little children and older adults, the common cold, in general, does not. 

Its symptoms, although could be confused with the common cold’s, are more severe and tend to be abrupt.  Among those, we find:  Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny and stuffy nose, fatigue, headaches, muscle and body aches.

We must not confuse the viruses that cause the flu or cold with the coronaviruses that cause Covid-19 (SARS-COV-2). 


A cold is an upper respiratory condition affecting your yose, throat, sinuses and trachea that could be caused by a rhinoviruses, parainfluenza, or seasonal coronaviruses.  A cold could happen any time, regardless of seasons, although they are most common during the winter.  A cold is not as strong as the flu, although some of its symptoms are similar. 

A cold would normally last a week and is highly contagious.  Staying away from people or using a mask while it lasts, is highly recommended.  If after a week the cold persists, it is possible that your cold turned into some kind of allergy or a sinus infection.

Flu and cold viruses enter your body through the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes, or mouth. By touching one of these areas, you could be infecting yourself with a virus, hence our recommendation to keep hands germ free with frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water.

In short, check the symptoms for each, notice the difference and keep in mind that all symptoms, are not always present:



  • Mix one tablespoon of honey with the juice of one lime and drink little by little during the day, make a new batch each day
  • Make a cup of regular tea, add three teaspoons of sugar and add the juice of half a lime, drink as hot as you can tolerate it, do not burn yourself
  • Prepare oregano tea as indicated in our “How To” section, better if using fresh leaves
  • Chicken soup! Try adding mint leaves and a clove of garlic when cooking.  At serving time, add chopped red onion and cilantro plus a few drops of lime juice.  Delicious, nutritious, and healing!
  • Ginger soup. Boil about two inches of ginger root in two cups of water, add bouillon and let it simmer.  Drink hot.  You might want to add lime juice for extra zest.  Please keep in mind this is spicy and if you suffer from any gastrointestinal irritation, it might not be for you.
  • In a tall pitcher put a piece of rapadura and a piece of fresh ginger root, fill up with water and drink during the day. Try adding a few drops of fresh lime juice.
  • Hot toddy! Drink this at night before going to bed.  Melt one heaped tablespoon of brown sugar in a medium stainless-steel saucepan.  When melted, add one ounce of rum, ½ cup of water and 1 and ½ inches of a cinnamon stick.  Let it boil and drink as hot as you can.  If you want, you could add one  allspice, a clove and/or lime juice.  NOTE:  This is not recommended to persons with alcohol use disorder or infants



  • Eat: Bananas, blueberries, carrots, chili peppers, mustard, horseradish, cranberries, red onions, rice
  • Prepare one 8-ounze cup with warm water, half a teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon white vinegar and make gargles with it, three to four times per day – this will help moisten and clean your throat
  • Make a cup of regular tea and make gargles with it, the tannins in it might help tighten your throat membranes
  • Make gargles with a solution made with honey and apple cider vinegar
  • Make a cup of raspberry leaves tea (see our “How To” section), add lime juice and honey to taste, use it as a gargling solution when warm
  • Steamy showers moisturize your nasal passages helping to decongest them. Also, they might help you ease the stress brought in by the cold or the flu
  • Taking a bath adding eucalyptus oil or leaves also helps ease congestion
  • Inhalations with a mentholated product help decongest your sinuses and the headaches caused by the congestion
  • Rubbing a small amount of petroleum Vaseline or a mentholated product under your nose will help to open your nasal passages and soothe your irritated skin. Do not use inside the nose
  • You can apply a damp washcloth that has been heated for one minute in a microwave. Be careful not to burn yourself, test the temperature before applying
  • Add pillows under your head to lay down in an elevated position to help relieve congested nasal passages; sleeping on your back might also help

Extra tips

  • We cannot stress enough the importance of regular medical checkups, a sensible diet and regular exercise
  • Consider Kegel exercises
  • Include in your daily diet dark, green leaves, garlic and tomatoes and fruits rich in antioxidants
  • Avoid drinking fluids in the evening
  • Avoid drinking a lot of fluids before going out
  • Avoid drinking large quantities before starting a trip
  • Urinate as soon as you feel the need – don’t wait for it to become an urgency
  • Go to the bathroom on a timed schedule, whether you need to go or not
  • Take your time to empty your bladder when you go to the bathroom; this will reduce the amount of times you return to the bathroom
  • Sitting while urinating will help empty your bladder completely

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Photography by: Brittany Colette, Matthew Henry, CDC BST,  and Concscious Design @ Unsplash