Cold, flu or COVID-19: How to tell the difference?

With the arrival of winter, we once again face a wave of respiratory infections. Most of these are of viral origin, but that doesn't mean they are just mild illnesses. Even though the symptoms may appear similar, they can be caused by different serious viruses. How do the flu, COVID-19, and the common cold differ from each other?

Differences in the spread of viral infections

The entry point for any respiratory viral infection is the mucous membrane of the nose or the oral cavity. These areas are the first in contact with viral particles. All viruses capable of infecting the upper respiratory tract primarily spread through droplet transmission, where infected droplets are either inhaled or transferred to the mouth through contact with hands from objects.

Our body has mechanisms that serve as the first line of defense, primarily located on the surface of mucous membrane cells in the upper respiratory tract. However, if the attacking viral particles overwhelm our body's defenses, the viruses can initiate illness. This primary line of defense can be supported by VIROSTOP products.

However, the differences between infections lie in the duration for which a viral particle can survive outside the host's body, the infectiousness before and after symptoms appear, as well as the incubation period from infection to the first symptoms. Among these diseases, it is specifically the COVID-19 virus that remains infectious for the longest duration and spreads somewhat more easily compared to influenza viruses.

Similar symptoms, different causes: How to differentiate them?

The symptoms of all the aforementioned infections bear resemblance to each other, and distinguishing between them based solely on symptoms is challenging in some cases. Generally, in mild cases, staying at home and using over-the-counter medications from the pharmacy is often sufficient. If our illness responds well to standard treatment, there's no need to pinpoint the exact causative agent.

However, we should pay attention when suspecting influenza or COVID-19, especially if we belong to a high-risk group for developing complications. Unlike the common cold, influenza or COVID-19 tends to be accompanied by fever, significant fatigue, usually a dry cough, and there might be more pronounced headaches, muscle aches, or back pain. If there are difficulties in breathing or any other serious symptoms, it's crucial to seek medical help immediately.

With young children, it's better to seek examination for any illness involving fever and cough because viral infections are more prone to secondary bacterial complications in them.

How can a doctor determine the cause of a respiratory tract infection?

Respiratory tract infections are mainly caused by viruses or bacteria, with fungal infections being exceptional cases. Therefore, diagnosis primarily focuses on distinguishing between viral and bacterial infections, which involves evaluating symptoms, their severity, and potentially conducting other diagnostic tests. One of the most commonly used tests is the CRP test, which provides rapid results directly in the clinic.

If the doctor determines the cause of the illness to be viral, there are more than 200 different types of viruses to consider. Among them, influenza and COVID-19 stand out due to the risk of a severe course of illness. If the patient's condition is more serious or if they belong to a high-risk group for developing complications, the doctor may perform swabs from the nasopharynx. They can opt for either a rapid antigen test for COVID-19 or send the collected sample to a laboratory for further assessment.

Prevention of viral respiratory tract infections

It's always better to prioritize prevention rather than treating an already initiated disease. Fortunately, preventive measures for all these illnesses are the same. These measures include frequent and thorough handwashing, boosting the body's immune system, wearing a mask or respirator in high-risk environments, avoiding crowded areas during a flu outbreak, and ensuring frequent indoor ventilation.

If we want to increase our protection even more, we can also reach for VIROSTOP products. These products contain extracts from five plants that, due to their high polyphenolic content, obstruct virus binding sites, preventing them from entering cells.

Their advantage lies in their local action against various viruses infecting the upper respiratory tract, including influenza, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, and a spectrum of viruses causing common colds. An in vitro clinical study led by Dr. Kuti from Budapest even demonstrated that the combined effect of all the extracts together exhibits up to twice the effectiveness compared to individual extracts alone. The study assessed the impact on several strains of influenza and the COVID-19 virus.

Therefore, if one frequents areas with an increased risk of infection, regularly using the VIROSTOP solution according to the recommended preventive dosage can enhance resistance.

However, despite best efforts, there might still be a chance of contracting one of these infections during the season.

Is the treatment different for influenza, COVID-19, and the common cold?

For mild cases of each of these illnesses, the treatment is generally the same. It involves bed rest, increased fluid intake, a light nutritious diet, and alleviating symptoms with suitable over-the-counter medications. It's essential to manage fever appropriately by reducing temperature only when it exceeds 38.5°C. Common symptoms include a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and possibly a cough. Symptomatic treatment is chosen based on the severity of the symptoms.

We can suppress the symptoms and simultaneously act against viruses with the help of VIROSTOP products, specifically dosed for acute illnesses. Since a viral infection typically affects multiple parts of the upper respiratory tract, it is recommended to treat the nasal cavity with VIROSTOP nasal spray and the oral mucosa with VIROSTOP oral spray or pastilles . Begin applying these products as soon as the first symptoms appear and continue until complete recovery. The advantage is that these products do not act specifically, thus can be used for any viral infection.

If complications arise or symptoms become severe, further treatment should be sought from a doctor.


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