There have been 12 cases reported of a new Swine Flu virus this season in widespread states, such as Maine, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. This is not the H1N1 strain that has been popping up over the last few year. This one is called H3N2V, and so far it appears to have only affected those who work with hogs, such as 4H’ers and farmers. If the H3N2v virus can be spread from human to human, it will be difficult to deal with, as all our current flu vaccinations are geared towards the older strains. As such, these vaccinations will be next to worthless in viruses that are not closely related to H1N1.
What is the Difference Between a Cold and a Flu?
There are plenty of common colds around this winter, also. It’s important for you to know the difference between colds and influenzas. This isn’t always easy; they are both associated with aches and pains, fatigue, cough, fever, congestion, etc. Although they have similar symptoms, they are different in the degree of severity of those symptoms. The table below will help you tell one from the other:
Symptoms Cold Influenza
Fever Rare, Low Common, High
Headache Rare Common
Nasal Congestion Common Occasional
Sore Throat Common Occasional
Cough Mild Severe
Aches and Pains Common Severe
Fatigue Mild Severe
It’s important to know that both colds and influenzas are viral in nature, and antibiotics will do little or nothing to treat them. Anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu are useful, but only if taken in the first 2 days of the illness. They may also be useful in prevention, if you are certain that you have been exposed. Most therapy is symptomatic, with common over the counter drugs such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, expectorants, gargles, and decongestants leading the way. Make sure you’ve stocked up on these vital medical supplies.
Colds will resolve themselves over a week or so, but influenzas will last longer; they could weaken you enough that secondary bacterial respiratory infections will set in. If this happens, you’ll notice that you are getting worse, not better, over time despite the usual treatments. If you find yourself worse after 10 days, you may consider antibiotics at that time to deal with possible bacterial overgrowths.
Alternative Remedies for Respiratory Infections
There are a number of alternative remedies for various respiratory infections; they will help to stimulate the immune system. Consider these essential oils:
You would place 2-3 drops on the palm of your hand. Warm the oil by rubbing your hands together, and then bring your hands to your nose and mouth. Breathe 3-5 times slowly and deeply. Relax and breathe normally for 2 minutes, then repeat deep breaths once more. Wipe excess oil onto throat and chest. This is called direct inhalation therapy.
For internal use, consider herbal teas: Popular ones for these conditions are Elderberry, Echinacea, Licorice root, Goldenseal, Chamomile, Peppermint, and Ginseng. Vitamin C and other anti-oxidants may be useful as well; one study finds that people who take Vitamin C daily have less days per year in which they are down with respiratory infections.