COLDS AND FLU

AN OVERVIEW OF COLDS AND FLU:

Colds and flu occur primarily in the winter months and are caused by viruses. The best way to prevent colds and flu is by washing your hands frequently. Alcohol sanitizers are insufficient since they kill bacteria as opposed to viruses.

When colds and flu become problematic:

For the most part, colds and flu are uncomplicated illnesses that occur just a few times per year and resolve within two weeks. For some people, colds and flu can become problematic. Many experience a series of recurrent colds throughout the winter, every winter. Others will become ill only once and suffer from lingering symptoms (frequently a cough) for months. Colds and flu can also occur at the most inconvenient times and it is not always easy to recover quickly when you really need to. At times, symptoms may become overwhelmingly uncomfortable.

HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COLD AND THE FLU:

Many cold and flu symptoms overlap which can make it difficult to tell the difference between them. In general, symptoms of the flu are more severe in intensity.

SYMPTOMSCOMMON COLDTHE FLU
FeverMild fever can occurOften high (above 100° F) and lasts 3-4 days
HeadacheOccasionallyCommon
Body AchesSlightOften severe
Fatigue and weaknessOccasionallyOften lasts 2-3 weeks
ExhaustionNeverHappens at the beginning of the illness
Stuffy noseCommonOccasionally
SneezingCommonOccasionally
Sore throatCommonOccasionally
Chest discomfort / coughMild to moderate; Hacking coughCommon; Can become severe
 

Naturopathic treatments for preventing and treating colds and flu:

When there is little support from medications for viral infections, naturopathic medicine has treatment options to help you get better faster whether your cold has been lingering for months or you just need to get well quickly.

Naturopathic doctors use a variety of herbs to support the immune system and fight infection. These herbs have anti-viral properties, can clear mucous from the chest thus alleviating a cough, clear the sinuses, or simply coat and calm mucous membranes providing symptomatic relief. Appropriate combinations of herbs can be customized to each patient based on individual symptoms. Additional immune supporting treatments will consist of supplements, dietary changes and lifestyle interventions.

Why seek advice from a naturopathic doctor for colds and flu:

  • Whether it is bronchitis, sinusitis, a common cold, or the flu, if viral symptoms will not go away a ND may offer a targeted treatment plan to help you get better faster.
  • Testing: Bacterial cultures may be performed where relevant to ensure that a referral for antibiotics is not necessary.
  • Lifestyle and dietary habits may be contributing to repetitive viral infections. An ND will make appropriate recommendations to ensure that you are supporting the immune system through these avenues.
  • Herbal support may treat viral infections and reduce congestion and coughing allowing you to get better faster. The combination of herbs used will be targeted to a patient’s individual symptoms. Botanicals and supplements prescribed will be checked with current medications to ensure there are no interactions.