Cold is a common respiratory tract infection (upper respiratory tract) including nose and throat which is caused due to different types of viruses like rhinovirus, influenza virus, adenovirus etc. After initial infection, symptoms occur from 12 hours to 5 days. Symptoms of common cold and flu (influenza) usually resolve in 7 to 8 days. It is a contagious viral disease that infects mucus membrane of the nose. Flu occurs most frequently in winters, rainy season, humid atmosphere and sudden change of weather.
The common cold and Flu, both are respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Common cold is usually caused by Rhinovirus (also by coronavirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and parainfluenza virus.) and Flu or Influenza is usually caused by Influenza virus (Type A, B, C).
Since these two infections have very similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between common cold and flu, based on symptoms alone. Usually, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Unlike Flu, Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.
You are more likely to catch cold if you are extremely tired, under emotional stress, or have allergies with nose and throat symptoms. You can catch it from another person who is suffering from cold or flu, either by direct physical contact or by touching a surface contaminated with their germs, like a phone, keyboard, doorknob or spoon — and then touching your nose or mouth. You can also catch it from infected droplets in the air released by a sneeze or a cough.
Symptoms of Common Cold and Flu
- Running nose
- Watery eyes
- Obstruction of nose
- Nasal congestion
- Muscular ache
- Sore throat
- Loss of appetite
Common cold has insidious onset, whereas flu (influenza) has a more abrupt onset. Flu usually has fever (and chills/chilliness) early on, common cold might not have fever at all. Bodyache is more in Flu/Influenza as compared to common cold. Flu/Influenza has usually more fatigue/prostration. Sneezing, stuffy nose and sore throat are more common in common cold. Headache and chest discomfort and cough are more common in flu/influenza.
Diagnosis of Common Cold and Flu
Virus isolation – nasopharyngeal secretions are the best specimens for obtaining large amounts of virus-infected cells. Certain viruses can be detected by the indirect fluorescent antibody technique. However, these tests are usually not done because common cold and flu are self-limiting conditions.
There may be some further complications of flu like pneumonia, acute bronchitis, sinusitis, strep throat etc, and to diagnose such conditions, investigations like chest X-ray, complete blood count, lungs scan etc has to be done.
Treatment for Common Cold and Flu (Influenza)
Although Symptoms of common cold or flu usually resolve in 7 to 8 days, to give relief and to prevent further complications treatment should be given. Treatment of cold should be done according to the presenting symptoms and overall condition of the patient.
Homeopathy Treatment of Common Cold and Flu
Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat cold symptoms but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several well-proved medicines are available in treatment for cold that can be selected on the basis of cause, condition, sensation and modalities of the complaints. For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. Some important remedies are given below in treatment for cold:
Aconite, Bryonia, Belladonna, Hepar sulph, Allium cepa, Euphrasia, Arsenic album, Ipecac, Ammonium carb, Aurum triph, Kali carb, Kali bichromicum, Phosphorous, Merc solubilis, Gelsemium, Rhus tox, Natrum mur, Calcarea carb, Ocillococcinum, Influenzinum, Eucalyptus and many other medicines.
The common cold is the most frequent infection in all age groups. Children especially contract a lot of colds. Colds often respond well to homeopathic remedies which is a tremendous advantage over modern medicine which has no cure for the common cold. Homeopaths generally advise that a cold or two every year is not a bad thing, as it “cleans out” the system and hence, the adage: don’t cure a cold, let a cold cure you. Still others say that you never know what your “innocent/ordinary” cold might erupt into–a flu, a pneumonia? Consequently, if you see a clear remedy picture, you might be safer giving the remedy than risking what may be down the line. If you are finding that you are having more than two colds a year it would be advised to seek help from a professional homeopath to strengthen your immune system. Homeopathy emphasizes treating the underlying imbalance in the immune system rather than simply fighting the infection–although in the moment, fighting the infection may be the priority.
The following homeopathy medicines may offer symptomatic relief so long as the remedy you choose is well indicated for your individual symptom picture.
Aconite – coryza caused by cold, dry winds; dry at first with violent headache, roaring in ears, in the earlier stage, feverish with dryness in the nostrils, thirst, sleeplessness; heat and sense of fullness in nares, and muscles sore all over body so that sneezing forces him to support chest; fluent coryza with frequent sneezing and dropping of a clear, hot water; inner nose red, swollen, interfering with breathing, amelioration in cool room and open air.
Ammonium carb – winter catarrhs, cold commences in head, nose stopped up at night, can only breath with mouth open; followed by profuse discharge of sharp burning water in daytime, which is apt to run down in throat; frequent sneezing with Epistaxis; when blowing nose; aggravation towards morning, 3 A.M; dry and tickling cough and with oppression mucus in chest and rawness down trachea and bifurcation of bronchi of bronchi; sensitive to cold air, relieved in warm room.
Argentum nitricum – cold with stupefying headache over the eyes, has to lie down; violent itching of nose, must rub it constantly; nasal discharge like boiled starch; sneezing, chilliness, lacrymation, sickly look; sense of smell blunted.
Arsenicum – it has proved to be one of the best remedies for “cold”; fluent coryza, with frequent sneezing without relief; hoarseness and sleeplessness, with swollen nose; stoppage of the nose, with copious discharge of watery mucus and burning in the nose, with soreness of the adjacent parts; buzzing in the ears; headache, with beating in the forehead and nausea; relief by warmth; prostration; sneezing in cool air, after leaving a warm room; generally aggravation from cold, except headache, which is temporarily relieved by cold washing and permanently by walking in cold air.
Bryonia – severe dry coryza with catarrh of the frontal and maxillary cavities and severe drawing-tearing, twitching and stitching pain in affected headache when affected parts; or fluent coryza, beginning with violent and frequent sneezing, accompanied by stitching headache when stooping; nose blocked with congestion in the head; hoarseness and altered tone of voice; profuse nose bleed; catarrh extending to chest.
Calcarea carb – sudden, violent, fluent coryza with dropping of water from nose; much sneezing; heat I head; mouth dry; heat and chill alternately; pain over root f nose; neck stiff; inertia; takes cold easily; post nasal catarrhs.
Eupatorium perf. – Coryza, with aching in every bone, and lassitude; fluent coryza with sneezing and hoarseness; weight over head and forehead, nose and ayes both streaming with water at intervals.
Gelsemium – Insidious onset of cold with marked bodyache and prostration. Dullness and drowsiness are marked. Thirstless.
Hepar sulph – in most cases of common cold; generally when every breath of cold air causes a new attack of cough and cold. Nose swollen and sore to touch, especially in side of alae or wings of nose; sensation when swallowing as of something sticking in throat
Kali bichrom – excellent remedy for cold and cough; catarrh of fauces and trachea; great accumulation of ropy mucus and expectoration of sold chunks from posterior nares; hoarseness; cough; suppressed voice; enlarged tonsils causing dullness of hearing; oppressed breathing; coryza with pressure and tightness at root of nose. Aggravation evening and open air, > in warm weather; in the morning, obstruction and bleeding from right nostril; fluent coryza, excoriating nose and lip; nostrils sensitive and ulcerated, round ulcer or scabs in septum, foul tongue, showing involvement if digestive tract; catarrh alternating with rheumatism.
Kali carb – dull smell, especially from catarrh; fluent coryza, excessive sensing, pain in back, headache and lassitude; dry coryza, with loss of voice; hoarseness; mucus or sensation of lump in throat; obstruction in the nose; making breathing through the nostrils impossible; goes off when walking in the open air, but returns in the room; burning itching in the nose; nosebleed; worse at every exposure to fresh air.
Pulsatilla – cold or coryza, fluid or dry, loss of taste and smell, nostrils sore; wings raw; later yellow-green discharge, worse in-doors; chilliness, face pale, head confused, frontal headache; chronic, thick, yellow, bland discharge or later yellow, green and offensive.
Rhus tox – complaints of cold with redness and oedema of throat; severe aching in bones; sneezing; dry cough, aggravation from evening till midnight and from uncovering body.
Rumex – dull headache, worse by motion; sore feeling in eyes, without any external sign of inflammation; fluent coryza, with painful irritation in nostrils and sneezing; Epistaxis; violent and rapid sneezing; feeling of dryness in posterior nares; cough excited by tickling in throat-pit and worse by least current of air; hoarseness.
Silicea – alternately dry and fluent coryza; with every fresh cold stoppage and acrid discharge from nose; frequent but ineffectual sneezing; makes inner nose sore and bloody; dryness of throat, rough cough, itching in Eustachian tube; frequent sneezing, especially in cold air; frequent chilliness, even while taking exercise; cold nose.
Sticta pulm. – complains of cold or coryza; premonitory symptoms of catarrh; excessive dryness of the nasal mucosa membrane; which becomes painful; secretions dry rapidly, forming scabs difficult to dislodge; deglutition painful; from dryness in the throat, aggravation at night; incessant sneezing, burning I n the eyes; dull frontal headache, with feeling of fullness at the root of nose; hard, dry, barking cough. (Homeopathic therapeutics; Samuel Lilienthal; 1998; 138)
Here is a homeopathy remedy chart to help narrow down your search for homeopathic remedy for your flu.
|REMEDY||KEYNOTE SYMPTOMS||OTHER SYMPTOMS||MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER||MAKES YOU FEEL WORSE|
|Aconite||Comes on suddenly. Fearful, restless, cheeks hot and red.|
First stage of cold. Caused by exposure to cold dry winds
|Sudden dry painful cough/croup watery mucous, sweats on uncovered parts. High fever with sensitivity to light. Thirsty, watery runny nose, possible bright red nose bleed.||Fresh open air, sleep||Warm stuffy room, In the evening and at night|
Lying on affected side. Irritated by music, dry,
|Allium cepa||Profuse, bland, watery discharge from eyes. Nasal discharge is profuse and burning. Warm rooms aggravate, better in open air.||Eyes run but the discharge is usually bland|
Mucous burns/corrodes top lip. Tickle in larynx, hoarseness, hacking cough worse breathing in cold air
|Fresh air||Evening. Cold air.|
Getting feet wet.
|Arsenicum album||Complaints are usually right-sided. Watery, burning nasal discharge. Restlessness, weakness, anxiety, thirsty for sips at frequent intervals, chilly, desires company.||Right nostril burns/corrodes top lip watery thin discharge, but nose feels blocked. Excessive sneezing, Irritation, tickling of the nose. Cold might move to chest.||Heat, elevated head,|
Warm drinks, company
|Wet, windy weather.|
Midnight to 2am. Sight or smell of food.
|Belladona||First stage of cold, sudden onset,|
high fever, red face, cold extremeties, throbbing pains, patient radiates heat.
|Skin hot, dry with high temperature|
Throbbing headache, very thirsty or not thirsty at allsore throat on right sideTickly throat, light hurts eyes
Eyes dilateddelirious in high fever
dry barking cough
desires lemons or lemonade
|Sitting upright or standing.|
In warm room
From lying down.
|Bryonia alba||A Cold slow to develop, painful coughs–patient holds chest when he coughs; worse from slightest movement, dry mucus membranes and very thirsty, worse for company, worse for having to answer questions, very irritable, wants to be alone.||Better for being still and quiet.|
cold moves into chest. A painful, dry, spasmodic cough. Left-sided headache, otherwise, right-sided complaints.
|From applying firm, cool pressure to head and chest.|
In cool surroundings
|For movement.Bright lights.|
9pm and 3pm.
|Dulcamara||Worse from damp and cold/damp weather, worse from change of weather, worse from drafts.||Thick saliva and hoarse voice, Possible cold sores|
Thirst for cold drinks
Post-nasal drip, lumbago or an Earache, watery diarrhea
|warm, dry air.Movement||For rest. At night.|
Cold, damp weather
|Euphrasia||The opposite of Allium Cepa: Nasal discharge is bland; discharge from the eyes is burning. Cough only in the daytime.||Copious fluid from nose, Bursting sensation as sinuses fill. At night little pains all over body. Heat/fever descends the body, sweats only on front.|
Later symptoms, chilliness, loose violent cough, pressing pain under sternum.
|Lying down in darkened room but may feel more blocked up.|
|From warm, windy weather. Being indoors.|
In the evening.
|Ferrum phos.||A cold that comes on slowly. Beginning of colds when symptoms are vague. Right-sided complaints.||Mild fever may be present, Mouth feels hot.|
Throat is red and swollen.
Possible nose bleeds.
|Gentle exercise. Applying a cold compress to the forehead.||For fresh air.In the Sun.|
For jarring or touch. Lying on right side. Between
|Gelsemium||Cold comes on gradually. Patient’s appearance: dopey, drowsy, droopy and dull. You could also add dizzy! Inclination to sleep. Apathetic. Weakness, chills run up and down back, headache starts in back of head or neck and spreads forward, heavy head, thirstless.||Tiredness, heavy body sensation. Headache above nape of neck. Tickling in nose gets worse. Later running nose, watery and irritating||Fresh air.movement,|
Bending forward, sweating.
|Before thunderstorm. Early in the morning and last thing at night.|
|Hepar sulph||Over-sensitive to pain; anxiety, irritable, angry outbursts, chilly and worse from cold, intolerant of drafts, worse uncovering a hand or a foot, swollen glands, bad odor of discharges, splinter-like pains.||Cold starts with watery runny nose. Later, excessive yellow mucous with offensive-smelling discharge and sneezing. Irritability and chilliness.||For wrappinghead firmly.|
Warm, moist environment.
|In cold air, draughts. Getting cold from undressing.|
|Kali bichrom||Second stage of cold. Thick, yellow, ropy, stringy nasal discharge. Sinusitis.|
Thick post-nasal drip.
|Thick mucous may block nose.yellow or green discharge with postnasal drip. Sinus headaches, pressure pain at root of nose.||From warmth||In the morning. Hot weather|
Getting cold from undressing.
|Natrum mur||Beginning stages of a cold with sneezing. “Egg-white” nasal discharge. Runny eyes worse in open air or wind. Sun and light aggravate. Warm, worse heat. Cold sores on lips, vesicles in mouth, cracked lips, ailments from grief.||Wants to be left alone. A dislike for sympathy.|
Cold starts with fits of sneezing and a thin catarrhal discharge consistency of the white of a raw egg. Nose maybe blocked with tendency towards developing cold sores.
|Applying cold compresses to the sinuses.|
Fresh open air
|In sea air or wet weather. Mental, physical exertion. Around 10am. Bright light or hot sun. Noise, talking, music.|
|Nux vomica||Cold, chills, worse slightest draft of air, ailments from over-work, irritable and angry, impatient; runny nose in the morning, obstructed at night; stomach pains, better warm drinks, constipation with ineffectual urging.||Runny nose during the dayblocked at night.|
Overcritical of others, impulsive,
chilliness, watery eyes,
in the evening.
|Windy, Cold, dry weather. In public places. After over-indulgence of spicy foods|
and stimulants such as coffee.
3am & 4am.
|Pulsatilla||Patient is weepy and wants to be consoled. Warm and worse heat, worse sun, better walking slowly in open air, worse warm stuffy rooms, dry mouth but no thirst, worse at twilight, worse from fatty foods; bland and often greenish nasal discharge||Possible nose bleeds, runny nose during the day,|
blocked nose at night
thirstless, loss of smell
Headache above eyes
|Crying and Sympathy. Exercise and|
fresh open air.
Cold drinks, cold compresses.
Raising hands above the head.
|Rich, fatty foods. Heat, In the sun.|
In the evening and at night.
|Rhus tox.||Second stage of coldCongested nose and scratchy throat. Worse cold and cold wet weather. Better warmth and warm bathing. Stiffness and restlessness. Desires cold milk. Worse in cloudy, foggy, rainy weather; worse getting wet. Can’t be still, must move.||Thick, yellow/green nasal discharge with a red scratchy throat, dry cough, tickling, hoarseness. Cough prevents sleep||From warmth, hot bathing.>From motion.|
For changing positions.
|Cough worse in cold room. Cold, wet, rainy weather.|
Along with these homeopathic remedies, the most effective treatment for common cold and flu, is rest and plenty of fluids. To increase fluids, try hot water with lemon juice and a little honey is good for the extra vitamin C. Encourage a light diet of soups, fresh fruit, vegetables and plenty of fresh air. Recurrent colds in adults and children do require constitutional homeopathic treatment from your professional homeopath.