Dr Oz did a show called CSI: Cold & Flu to discuss What is the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu? Plus, Doctor Oz gave a bunch of advice on how to stay healthy this season. Do you know the difference between cold symptoms and flu symptoms? Or how to treat the cold vs the flu? This is a definite must read for the upcoming winter season!
Dr Oz said that the University of Virginia does some of the most groundbreaking Cold & Flu Research. The main scientist that studies colds and flues there is Dr Ronald Turner, who has been studying the difference between the cold virus and the flu virus for 30 years. Dr Turner even infects volunteers with viruses to help in his studies.
Rhinovirus: Common Cold Symptoms
The most common symptoms of the Rhinovirus (a fancy name for the common cold) include sore throat, runny nose and a cough.
Influenza: Flu Symptoms
The most common symptoms for the flu include fever, muscle aches and body aches.
Dr Turner said that you can ward off the flu, but not colds. There are vaccines to protect you against getting the flu, but there are no Common Cold Vaccines. We do not even know yet why we get sick from the Rhinovirus or how we get over the Rhinovirus. There is so much we have yet to learn about our bodies!
Dr Oz brought onto his show Dr Neil Schachter, author of the Good Doctor’s Guide to Cold and Flu, and Dr Leigh Vinocur.
Dr Oz: How Do You Get Infected with Cold or Flu?
Dr Oz’s first topic of discussion was with respect to Cold and Flu Infection. Generally, you get an infection in your respiratory system and spread it from person to person. This often happens by a person who is already infected, leaving the virus on surfaces like doorknobs or pens. Dr Oz said there are three main ways of getting infected with a cold or flu:
- Skin Contact
- Small Particles (such as someone coughing into the air and you breathing it in)
- Large Particle Direct Hit (someone sneezes right in your face)
The University of Virgina did a study and found that using anti-bacteria gel every 3 hours did not reduce the number of cold viruses found on your hand, nor did it have any impact on how often the person got a cold or a virus. The best method is still to wash your hands – the old fashion way. Dr Oz also suggested that instead of shaking people’s hands, we should adopt bowing, like is done in certain Asian cultures. I think that is a brilliant idea! Lets start the trend!
Dr Oz showed an example of what happens when you do get infected with a cold or virus. The trachea gets infected, which can begin to infect the lungs. And if your lungs get infected, it starts off usually as bronchitis but can turn into Pneumonia. Dr Oz said that most people who die from these infections actually die from Pneumonia.
Dr Oz: How to Protect Against Colds & Flues
Dr Oz said that the Rhinovirus is the most common form of the Common Cold. There are over 100 variations of Rhinoviruses, so there is no way to protect ourselves against each and every one of them, at least at this point. The flu virus though is a more homogeneous group of viruses. The flu usually starts in Asia each year, and makes its way west, which is why we can make a vaccine to protect ourselves against it.
Dr Oz: Cold Symptoms vs Flu Symptoms
Dr Neil Schachter had a great general rule to remember what is a cold symptom vs a flu symptom. Anything above the neck is generally a cold. Anything below the neck is generally a flu. So for example here are some symptoms of each:
- Stuffy Nose
- Sore Throat
- Body Aches
- Chest Pain
Dr Oz: How Long Are You Contagious with Colds & Flues?
With a cold, you are sick for about a week, but you are usually only contagious for the first few days. With the flu, you are sick for a couple of weeks, but it can be contagious for up to a week.
Dr Oz: Cold Treatments
Dr Oz showed some things for treating a cold. You basically treat the symptoms of the cold. So if you have a sore throat, try throat lozenges. If you feel pain and discomfort, try ibuprofen or acetaminophen. And if you are stuffy look for decongestants and antihistamines. Dr Oz said that his friends and family often call him up and beg for a prescription of Z-Pak, but this is an antibiotic and will do nothing for a virus, it will not even shorten how long you are sick for.
Dr Oz: Flu Treatments
Dr Oz got his flu shot for the year on his show a while ago. But of course the best flu treatment is prevention by getting the flu shot. Then, if you still get the flu, you can try things like acetaminophen and aspirin (as long as you are not under 18), decongestants, antihistamines, and there are even 2 viral agents for serious cases of the flu: Tamiflu and Relenza. You should not take Relenza if you have any chest conditions though. Dr Oz said that the H1N1 vaccine is included in the flu shot this year, but I wonder how this impacts people who have already had the H1N1 vaccine? I will do some research on this topic, but please leave a comment below if you have any insight!