Is it a cold? Is it the flu?

The flu is so easily misdiagnosed by people that it seems everyone gets the flu during the winter. But, is it really the flu? Or is it a cold? Many believe that when they have a slight fever, a sore throat, sneezing like crazy and a runny nose and all they feel like doing is staying in bed then they must have the flu. Yet the majority of the times it’s not a flu at all, but instead the common cold. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reported a couple of weeks ago that of the thousands that came in to the testing laboratories claiming to have the flu, only 36% actually tested positive. This last week only 26% tested positive. The rest of the 74% didn’t have the flu at all.

So, how exactly are the differences between the flu and a cold?

Common Cold

The common cold enters your body through a mucus membrane and if your body can’t fight it away then you’ll develop a cold. A cold gradually becomes worse the first two days and then begins to diminish but some symptoms may linger for up to 4 weeks. A common cold includes symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat and a slight (if at at all) grade fever.

Symptoms (though not everyone will experience ALL the symptoms):

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Mild headache
  • Mild body aches


The flu is caused by the influenza virus and also enters your body through mucus membranes. It comes on suddenly and hits you hard (kind of like being run over by a truck).  The flu hits your bronchial tubes and the lungs so it’s more serious than the common cold.

Symptoms (though not everyone will experience ALL the symptoms)

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

Get better naturally

For either the cold or the flu be sure to get plenty of rest and drink plenty of liquids. Avoid dairy as it increases mucus in your body. And help your body fight off the virus by increasing your immunity. When in doubt, consult with your care giver. And remember that a fever in a young baby should always be considered an emergency.

Immunity Soup for a Sick Day

Adapted by Herbal Antibiotics, by Stephen Buhner

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bulb garlic (at least 10 cloves), minced
  • One 1 1⁄2 inch piece of fresh ginger root grated
  • 1 1⁄2 cups lightly salted vegetable soup stock
  • 2 cups fresh, sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • Miso

Bring water to boil in large soup pot. Heat olive oil, sauté garlic, onions, and ginger until soft then add these to the boiling water. Add broth and shiitake mushrooms and lower heat to simmer for two hours. Remove from heat, allow to sit for two more hours. And once it’s time to enjoy your soup add a tablespoon of miso and mix in (but don’t heat the miso on the stove top or you’ll lose some of the nutrients that is in miso).

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