Is it a cold or is it the flu? Test your knowledge of cold or flu symptoms, prevention and treatment with this quick quiz.
Q: You woke up this morning with a sore throat, runny nose and cough. Do you have a cold or the flu?
A: Probably a cold.
While these symptoms can also be associated with the flu, they are more common for a cold.
Q: You develop a sudden fever, with a temperature of between 38 ºC and 40 ºC, you ache all over and can’t get out of bed. Do you have a cold or the flu?
A: Very likely the flu.
While fever, muscle pain and fatigue are also associated with colds, they are more common and much more severe during a bout of flu. Also, flu symptoms come on suddenly, whereas colds have a more gradual onset.
S: A treated cold will go away faster than an untreated one.
There is no way to cure the common cold. However, over-the-counter medications can reduce cold symptoms and help you sleep better at night so that you can function better as your body fights the virus.
S: Medications that taste bad work better.
There is no connection between how a medication tastes and its effectiveness in reducing symptoms. Check the drug’s ingredients instead.
S: Vitamin C helps prevent colds.
A: Probably false.
It’s true that vitamin C plays a role in immune system function. However, its effectiveness in preventing colds is more controversial. Most studies have shown that vitamin C—even a daily 1 g supplement—can’t prevent colds. However, some studies observed a decrease in the number of colds in people exposed to stress and cold temperatures who took preventive doses of vitamin C. In these studies, the people who benefited from vitamin C treatment were marathon runners, skiers and soldiers.
Vitamin C’s effectiveness as a cold remedy is also controversial. Some studies have shown that supplements with high concentrations of this vitamin can shorten the duration of symptoms by approximately 1 day. However, other studies have failed to show this effect, even with higher doses of vitamin C. Also, high doses may cause side effects, such as diarrhea.
Vitamin C supplements are not for everyone. If you want to take them, talk to your pharmacist first to make sure they’re right for you.