Cold and flu (or Influenza) are both respiratory illnesses and the terms are used interchangeably. However, they are both caused by different viruses. There are two main types of flu viruses: influenza A and influenza B. The most serious and deadly flu outbreaks are caused by influenza A because of its ability to genetically shift into new forms against which no person has developed immunity. Influenza B generally causes less severe infection. Outbreaks of influenza B commonly occur in schools and military camps, where many people live or work in close contact. The flu is a more serious illness than common cold. With cold, the symptoms are centered around the nose and throat. But the flu affects the whole body. The symptoms of a cold include a runny or blocked nose, sneezing, minor throat irritation, mild fever, sore throat, a feeling of ears block, and finally coloured mucus or nasal discharge (which means that your immune system is fighting the infection). Symptoms of influenza usually start suddenly with a high fever. Other symptoms include, irritation in the throat, a dry cough, high fever, shivering, sweating and severe muscle aches. The conventional therapies for colds focus primarily on temporary symptom relief and include over-the-counter antipyretics, antiinflammatory and decongestants but for influenza it also includes prescription antiviral agents and vaccines (for prevention). This review presents the comparison of conventional treatment options with selected botanicals under different categories -antiviral, diaphoretic, expectorant, febrifuge and immunostimulant- along with nutritional consideration (Vitamins A and C, zinc, propalis) that may help in the prevention and treatment of these conditions.
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