That soreness along the throat, those chills and aching joints... these typical symptoms of common cold and an oncoming spell of seasonal influenza can very well be signs of a more sinister viral disease - swine flu! Despite the similarity of the initial symptoms, common cold (and the very closely related seasonal flu) and swine flu are two very different threats that attack and afflict the body. So what are the fundamental points of difference with regards to common cold vs. swine flu? The following segment contains the details that will help you identify the differences, so that you can take appropriate action to arrest the intensity of either condition in case you exhibit any of the symptoms typical to each viral affliction.
Difference Between Cold and Swine Flu
The fact that the initial swine flu and head cold symptoms appear similar, only serves to tell us that these symptoms are not to be taken lightly. What you may assume to be indications of a common cold may well be the warning signs of the H1N1 virus taking over your body! Now, before we get into deeper details, let me make wake you up to a disturbing fact - while the frequency and intensity of swine flu cases may seem to be riding a downward sloping curve, the viral pathogen and the resultant disease are far from extinction! In fact, cases of swine flu are still reported in various parts of the world, although the media frenzy over it may seem to have climbed down a good number of notches. That being said, let's take a systematic, step-by-step look at the various points of difference between a cold and swine flu, in the following paragraphs.
Common cold is mostly caused by rhinoviruses, though coronaviruses are also responsible for an almost equal number of reported cases. Swine flu, on the other hand, is caused by various subtypes of the Influenza A genus of the Orthomyxoviridae family of RNA viruses. The Influenza A viral subtype which is primarily responsible for causing swine flu, especially in humans, is H1N1, although similar infections caused by H1N2, H2N3, H3N1 and H3N2 are also not uncommon. Viral strains belonging to the Influenza C group are also known to infect swines and humans with flu-like symptoms, although they do not seem to affect birds.
Part(s) of Body Affected
While common cold affects the upper respiratory tract, ranging between the nasal cavity and the larynx, all types of influenza (be it seasonal flu, avian flu or swine flu) affect the entire respiratory system, starting from the nasal cavity right to the lungs! The musculoskeletal system is also affected, resulting in aches and pains all over the body, coupled with an overall malaise. While common cold symptoms include chills, occasional fevers, body ache, sore throat, cough, headaches, etc., swine flu is often accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea like symptoms, along with the regular head cold indications. This is so because the swine flu virus weakens the digestive system, making it difficult for the body to break down complex dietary components effectively. Breathing difficulties may occur in advanced stages. Fatigue and malaise are common in both conditions.
Treatment and Management
Symptomatic treatment for arresting fevers, alleviating pain and soothing a sore throat is common to both head cold as well as swine flu. Head cold treatment also includes administration of vitamin C and zinc supplements, to boost up the immune system. No standard antiviral is, as of today, available for head cold, and the immune system itself is sufficient to eradicate the infection within a span of 7 - 10 days. Various head cold remedies (both clinical as well as traditional), therefore, include nutritional supplements that more or less aim to boost up the immune system, so that it can fight off the infection faster. On the other hand, in case of swine flu, an antiviral course is available, and is followed to supplement the efforts of the body's immune defenses. Administered in the early stages, these antivirals help prevent further complications and decrease the risk of mortality by a significant percentage.
Studies have shown that individuals with a strong immune system stand a better chance at completely recovering from swine flu, sometimes not even requiring antivirals and medical attention to do so! Whether it is a cold or swine flu, care must be taken to keep the surroundings of clean and hygienic. Nutritious food, lots of fluids, vitamin and antioxidant supplements, and loads of rest, are the basics that work wonders in steering the infected individual towards complete recovery, no matter which half of the cold vs. swine flu condition weighs the subject down. The immune system alone is capable of fighting viruses, and the so-called antivirals are nothing but chemical triggers that put the immune system on an alert mode. These antivirals do not seek out and kill the viruses themselves! Therefore, an overall healthy system that is capable of bouncing back fast is your best defense against any kind of cold, flu or other viral disease.