The common cold is a highly contagious, viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system, primarily caused by picornaviruses (including rhinoviruses) or coronaviruses. The flu is caused by the influenza virus.
Common cold symptoms are sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing and coughing; sometimes accompanied by pink eye, muscle aches, fatigue, malaise, headaches, muscle weakness, and loss of appetite. Fever, widespread achiness and extreme exhaustion are more usual in influenza.
Viral or Bacterial
Sore throats may be viral or bacterial. If you have a white coating on the back of your throat, the sore throat is the overwhelming symptom and you have swollen neck glands, it is more likely to be strep or infectious mononucleosis and a trip to the doctor may be worthwhile.
With upper respiratory infections, you may be contagious before you even have symptoms, and are usually moving past the infectious stage after you are past the worst of the symptoms. Nonetheless, avoid sneezing at people and wash your hands after you sneeze on them, or after you touch your face, so you can minimize spreading the infection to others.
Diet and Exercise
Get your rest. Pushing through a flu or cold is a good way to trigger Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Resting also makes you less likely to lose friends by spreading your infection to them.
Drink lots of fluids, particularly water.
For any infection, add thymic protein — This natural thymic hormone mimic stimulates your immune system wonderfully. It should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet. Take as directed 3 times each day at the first sign of any infection until the infection resolves. You’ll be impressed and even your kids will love it.
Take vitamin C 1,000-3,000 mg every few hours while awake, then lower the dose if and when you get loose stools.
For stuffy nose or nasal congestion — eucalyptus oil. This wonderful penetrating vapor does not have the tendency to irritate like menthol. A good one is a form called "Sinu-Check" by Enzymatic Therapy, which contains a unique, pure form of natural eucalyptus oil extract called "cineole." Eucalyptus smells great, and has been used for centuries to clear stuffy airways, shrink nasal swelling and reduce secretion of mucus — fast and without causing sedation.
Echinacea Herbal Mixes
Another helpful tool to fight sore throats and colds in general (especially in kids) is Echinacea herbal mixes. A good example would be Esberitox (by Enzymatic Therapy), which has been studied extensively and also been proven safe for children as young as 2 years old. For example, in one study it decreased the duration and severity of colds and flu by 50%. It contains a blend of two potent strains of echinacea along with two other immune-boosters: thuja and baptisia. Esberitox has been recommended by pediatricians and family physicians in Europe and the U.S. for many years. It's chewable and tastes good, making it a hit with children of all ages (2 years old to over 90 ;-)
Other Therapies & Advice
If you have the flu (or even think you may) take a wonderful homeopathic called Oscillococcinum (in most drug or health food stores) as soon as possible. The earlier you start it, the more likely to knock the flu out quickly. I keep this in my medicine cabinet.
Suck on a zinc lozenge containing 10-20 mg of zinc four to five times a day. This is especially helpful for sore throats.
Dark chocolate is an effective (and tasty) cough suppressant. It is as effective as codeine.
Salt Water Gargles
For sore throats or nasal congestion, use salt water gargles and nasal rinses. The recipe is: 1 teaspoon salt (table salt is fine), plus 1 teaspoon baking soda (not baking powder!), plus 1 pint of lukewarm water.
If you have infectious mononucleosis, which can last 6 weeks and is diagnosed by your doctor using a lab test, the treatments above (especially the thymic protein) can help, but here's a powerful but little known trick. Get Tagamet (cimetidine), the over the counter antacid , from your drug store or supermarket. Though not natural, this safe over the counter medication is an immune modifier that I have seen quickly eliminate mono even in teens hospitalized with it. If over 12 years old, take 400 mg 3x day till the mono symptoms clear.