We all know that rain season is approaching. In fact some states like Lagos have started experiencing rain fall. Because of the change in weather, many people experience respiratory tract infections the most common of which are cold and flu. Although both cold and flu are respiratory tract infections and caused by viruses, it is important to know their differences.
A cold is a milder respiratory illness and while it can make you quite ill for a few days, flu has more complications like pneumonia and may require hospitalization. Cold symptoms include sore throat, congestion, cough and runny nose. The runny nose gradually becomes thicker and darker.

Fever is usually absent in adults but it’s normal for children to have mild fever. These symptoms resolve within days. Symptoms above one week could indicate a bacterial infection and thus medical help should be sought. Flu on the other hand comes with sore throat, headache, fever, malaise, muscle aches, lethargy and cough. swine flu may come with diarrhea and vomiting. If you experience shortness of breath or a fever that persists, please see a medical practitioner as this could be a sign of pneumonia.

I do not advise self-medication but you could take Paracetamol while you go to the hospital and get properly treated. Home remedies include: _take warm green/ginger tea with honey.
Cinnamon and honey tea does wonders for respiratory tract infections. Heat steaming too is helpful. Just get a bowl, put hot water in it and some mentholatum preferable and allow to melt. Bend very close to the bowl and cover your head with a big towel. Then with your mouth open, breathe in and out. Do this procedure at least twice a day and thank me later.

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You can opt for eucalyptus oil. This oil is extracted from the eucalyptus tree and has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-septic, astringent, antispasmodic, analgesic and expectorant properties.
Studies have found out that eucalyptus oil has immune boosting properties that help fights infections, decongests the airways and increase circulation in the body. Procedure is same with that of mentholatum. Other methods apart from the steam method are:
Apply few drops of eucalyptus oil under your pillow cover, the aroma diffuses slowly to your nostrils and helps unblock any phlegm in your nasal cavity.
During the day, apply small drops of the oil in a handkerchief (not tissue as this will evaporate quickly) and sniff it when your nose is blocked. This will provide relief .Do not use same handkerchief for cleaning your face and nostrils as it has a stinging effect.

Avoid anything cold like food, drinks or water or cover yourself in a cold environment. Take more fluids and foods/fruits rich in vitamin C.
antihistamines is also very helpful to treat cold/flu.

See the doctor if there is persistent coughing; fever and headaches; difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath; and painful swallowing.

I will like to focus more on the preventive measures. Prevention they say is better than cure, so if you want to be free from cold, flu or any other respiratory infections especially in this rainy season, then you need this.
Wash your hands properly and regularly (wet hands, apply soap and rub until lather, then wash the back of your hands, in between fingers, nails, wrist and palms, then rinse properly and clean with a towel).

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Hand washing is the easiest way to prevent spread of infection .Do this after visiting a sick person, after using the toilet, before and after carrying a baby, and after cleaning your nose;

As an alternative to hand washing, get a sanitizer or alcohol rub and use when you are in a place that you can’t wash your hands;

Eat fruits and vegetables to boost your immunity and prevent infections; the advantages of taking water cannot be overemphasized. Drink as much as you can.
Avoid dusts and cover your mouth and nostrils when you are on a motorcycle or walking on the road. Go for regular medical check-ups. Protect yourself from cold at work and at night when you want to sleep. Special care should be given to children and the elderly as they are prone to infections due to low immunity;
Clean surfaces and floors of homes and work places with disinfectants; _if you have been exposed to someone with flu, get medical help immediately;
get a flu vaccine. Children taking it for the first time need two doses to be taken month apart.
Lastly, stop smoking if you do or stay away from those that do.
As I will always say, health is wealth, take care of your health and save your money.
By Lizzy Ugwueze