Colds and flu – an overview of their management
In South Africa deaths related to colds and flu are at least three times higher when compared to the USA. The burden of HIV and tuberculosis in our country heightens the risk of severe flu-related illness. The common cold and flu are caused by very different viruses that share very similar symptoms. The common cold is a self-limiting upper respiratory tract viral infection and it is caused by the rhinovirus, coronavirus or the adenovirus. It usually resolves within 7–10 days. Flu is caused by the influenza virus and usually presents with headaches, myalgia, fever and body aches. There is no place for antibiotic usage in colds and flu management, and there is no clinical evidence which suggests that using antibiotics alters the course of the disease or prevents secondary infection. Treatment is mainly symptomatic and includes many over-the counter-medicines, specific antiviral agents and herbal treatment.