Traditionally over winter we can catch viral infections which make us sick. This could be runny nose, headache and fever lasting 3 days (coryza, common cold) and including lethargy, body ache and prolonged coughing (influenza ,recent widely publicised strains have been “Corona” and “bird flu”,). Both colds and flu start very similarly and so makes influenza the more serious of the 2 and hard to diagnose in the beginning. Treatment for common cold and influenza is conservative with symptom control (for fever, aches, runny nose and cough). However, as we age the body does not cope as well and the damage to the airways can put people into hospital for supportive treatment.

The best weapon we have against either of these viral infections is avoidance. This involves not catching the virus by avoiding coughing people (at least get out of the direction of cough and cover your nose and mouth), regular hand washing with soap and water. Cleaning hands and surfaces (door handles, phones, tables for example) regularly with alcoholic wipes or solution is useful to reduce viral exposure. Staying at home if your are sick to stop the spread of the virus. If the virus has made it into the body, a chemical messenger called interferon is produced to make the body fight the virus. It is the interferon which gives the terrible symptoms. Immunisation (flu shot) before the flu season starts will assist your body to kill the virus before it spreads. influenza infection.

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