General Health

Keep Yourself Safe During The Cough And Cold Season

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on - 21 December 2022, Updated on - 09 July 2023

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A sniff here, a sneeze there, the cold and flu season sneaks in every October and clings until the winter ends. The common cold is a viral infection of the throat and the upper respiratory tract (URT) that is experienced by people almost every year. While it is bothersome, the common cold helps the body develop its natural immunity to fight against viruses. Let us understand more about the common cold and how one can deal with it this winter.

Common symptoms of cold

The symptoms of the common cold can range from mild to severe, depending on the load of viruses that enter the body. General symptoms of the common cold are as follows:

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Itchy feeling in the nose
  • Heavy head
  • Cough with sputum
  • Body ache
  • Frequent sneezing
  • Mild fever

Difference between flu and cold

While both flu and cold affect the respiratory system, the difference between the both is:

  • Flu, also called influenza, is caused by the influenza virus, while the common cold can be caused by many different viruses.
  • Symptoms of the flu are more severe than those of the cold and may lead to complications.

It is almost impossible to differentiate between the common cold and the flu just by looking at the symptoms. Therefore, one should get a lab test done to confirm the diagnosis.

Prevention from cold

Follow these tips to stay safe from seasonal cough and cold:

  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps the immune system fight sickness. It also helps replace the fluid lost due to a runny nose.
  • Keep an inhaler handy. Inhalers help relieve the cough by clearing the congestion in the airway, making breathing easy.
  • Increase Vitamin C intake. Consume vitamin C-rich food items such as amla, oranges, grapefruit, bell pepper, and tomatoes regularly as they are high in antioxidants and help fight the symptoms of the cold.
  • Wash hands regularly. Hand washing can help get rid of a number of bacteria and viruses. Therefore, one should make sure they wash their hands with soap and water, especially before having or cooking food and after coming back from outside. Also, conscious efforts should be made not to touch the nose, ears, and eyes as that can cause the virus to spread.
  • Sleep adequately. A good night's sleep of at least 7 to 9 hours allows the body to produce immunity-building cells, which protect the body from seasonal illnesses.
  • Take the flu shot. People with weak immune systems should take flu shots to reduce their risk of developing the infection. It takes two weeks for the effect of the vaccine to show, therefore, it must be taken at the beginning of the autumn season (around October).
  • Avoid pollen. Those suffering from pollen allergy should wear masks while going out in public to avoid triggering an allergic response. They should also keep anti-allergic drugs handy.
  • Keep the nose clean. Steam inhalers can help ease a stuffy nose and a painful throat. Furthermore, over-the-counter available nasal rinses can help clear out mucus, making breathing easy.
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes. Smoke and nicotine can worsen the symptoms of a cold and cause breathing difficulties.

When is it time to see a doctor?

The common cold usually resolves with appropriate rest and healthy food. However, one must consult a doctor if they experience signs like:

  • Increasing fever despite taking medicines
  • Extremely high fever (more than 101°F) for over three days
  • Severe ear pain
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Difficulty in breathing

It is important to strengthen immunity, especially during cold weather as more people are indoors, which allows the viruses to spread easily. Maintaining good hygiene, eating a balanced diet, and performing mild-intensity exercises regularly can help strengthen immunity and reduce the risk of catching an infection. If you have a persistent cough and cold, 

Consult An Apollo Specialist


Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.

General Health

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