Introductory Note: Colds and Flu--based on the Great Physician's Rx for Health and Wellness book series (Colds and Flu).
When someone gets a cold or the flu, he or she often experiences a sore throat, runny nose, aching, and a general sense of being miserable. Other symptoms include a cough, headache, and dry, sore, or sensitive breathing passages. In any given year, nearly half of the United States population will catch a cold and 40% will develop influenza, otherwise known as the “flu.”
The symptoms of both the common cold and the flu are often the same, since both are caused by the same family of respiratory viruses. According to John Hibbs, N.D., of Seattle, Washington, “the distinction between the two depends on how severe the infection is and the range of symptoms. The flu is usually more severe, develops quickly, and involves more of the body than a cold. A cold also occurs at any time of year, while the flu usually develops in more widespread outbreaks, normally in late fall and winter.”
“Beyond respiratory inflammation, the flu produces a moderate to high fever, aching muscles, and acute fatigue,” says Dr. Hibbs. “…the flu may lead to pneumonia in particularly susceptible individuals. Other complications of the flu, although rare, include inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or heart (myocarditis), Reye’s syndrome (an illness primarily affecting children, involving abnormal brain and liver function), and croup.
The common cold and the flu are believed to be caused by exposure and susceptibility to a variety of common viruses; however, not everyone who is exposed to these viruses catches a cold or the flu. The late Emanuel Cheraskin, M.D., D.M.D., made this point about the role of a strong immune system, “Three healthy people can breathe the same [pathogens] at the same moment. One may develop pneumonia, another sniffle his way through a cold, and the third goes unscathed. After all, in most epidemics, those people who succumb represent only a fraction of the number of people exposed.”
This suggests an ebb and flow in immune levels in each individual, dependent on stress, diet, amount of rest, and other factors—that can result in one’s susceptibility to such invaders as cold viruses and flu viruses. For this reason, many emphasize strengthening one’s immune system in order to safeguard it from susceptibility.
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