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What's the difference between colds and flu?

Cold and flu infections are both caused by viruses that trigger an infection in your airways (nose and throat).

Many symptoms are similar, such as a sore throat and coughing, but there are several differences that help distinguish between a cold and flu. While many people will say they have flu, the fact is most winter infections are due to the cold virus and these infections usually clear up within a week to ten days.

There are over 200 known cold viruses and they don't only circulate in winter. How often have you had a summer cold? Colds are very contagious and easy to spread because when an infected person coughs or sneezes, they send millions of virus-containing droplets into the air, right into the path of whoever is nearby.

Plus the viruses can also land on commonly used objects like door handles, lift buttons, ATMs or trolley handles, even bathroom towels. Touching your eyes, nose or mouth after encountering one of these contaminated objects transfers the virus right to the ideal site of infection. Within a few hours, you start sneezing, your throat feels scratchy and oh great, you know you're coming down with a cold.

Unless you hibernate at home for the whole of winter, you're not going to avoid coming into contact with cold viruses but you can do some things to reduce your chances of getting ill.

Eat well

Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, especially seasonal varieties during winter as these often contain higher levels of vitamin C. Drink lots of filtered water daily and avoid sugar and processed foods as much as possible.

Wash your hands

Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face. These two simple habits make a huge difference between staying well or having to pause your busy life to be sick for a week or more.

Get enough sleep

The average adult needs 7 - 8 hours sleep a night. People who don't get enough sleep regularly have weaker immune function and resistance to viruses and infections. If you have trouble getting a good night's sleep here are some tips that might help.

Manage your stress levels

Ever wondered why after a stressful time at work or exams, you suddenly get slammed by a cold? It's because stress also negatively impacts your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to infections.

Support your immune system

Support your immune system with a clinically proven immune regulator like Echinaforce. Used daily, Echinaforce can prevent nearly 60% of cold and flu infections, simply by regulating the immune system response to invaders and strengthening the body's resistance. This is very important for people who are elderly, stressed or who smoke as they are more likely to get ill in winter and in them, as well as young children, the complications arising from a cold or flu can be severe. Read more about Echinaforce or find your local stockist.