By Dr Jaci Schultz
It is extremely important to be able to differentiate between common colds, the ‘flu and allergies, as each of these need to be treated completely differently in order to be effective. Coming from a homoeopathic and functional medicine perspective, I am trained to look at the patient as an individual and formulate a treatment plan for their individual needs after a lengthily consultation and physical examination.
Okay – so how does one try and work out what is potting?
When most of us pick up a bug and we feel ill, we tend to say that we have the ‘flu, but is having the ‘flu the same as having a cold? Absolutely not! There are certainly similarities between the two conditions, one of them being that both the ‘flu and the common cold are caused as a result of contracting a viral infection, but you can in fact clearly distinguish between the two conditions quite easily.
When a person has picked up a virus, more specifically a rhinovirus resulting in the common cold, they tend to have a runny or stuffy nose that may be gradual in starting and they may be feeling a little headachey. The patient may also have watery, irritated eyes, a sore throat and they may be sneeze more than usual.
On the other hand, if a person has picked up a strain of the ‘flu virus, the symptoms are vastly different in that the person will. They will get sick really quickly, and will actually look very ill. The ‘flu patient will feel extremely weak and will usually also have a fever, reaching as high as 39’C. The fever may result in chills and sweats, and the patient’s muscles may ache severely especially in the region of the back, arms and legs. The headache of the ‘flu patient that accompanies is severe and aside from a loss of appetite, the patient actually feels nauseous.
An easy way to work out whether you have possibly picked up the ‘flu or the common cold is to remember that if you are suffering from the common cold, your symptoms will be localized to your head region only, whereas when you get the ‘flu, your entire body is affected!
Since it is now easy to differentiate between the two conditions, it is also easy to understand that since the symptoms are so different, the two conditions they will require completely different treatments. Some helpful hints in treating the common cold include the following: Blow your nose frequently, but gently, and don’t sniff! Sniffing the mucus up into the ear passages may result in an ear infection. Gargle with some warm, salt water twice daily to not only moisten a sore throat, but to also prevent the spread of the infection downwards. Steam your nose and sinuses to moisturise your nasal passages and allow any excess mucus to discharge.
When it comes to working out if the mucus is due to an infection or an allergy, remember the following easy rule: if the mucus has been present for more than 2 weeks and there are no other clinical symptoms such as fever and sore throat, it is most likely due to an allergic stimulus irritating the respiratory mucosa and not a virus or bacteria.
If at any point you are unsure, rather err on the side of caution and take your child to a registered homoeopathic practitioner or general practitioner to be assessed.