This morning I woke up, with my nose fully clogged with mucus, throat sore from the excessive sneezing, and feeling feverish all over. Right, so I went to the doctor on this Sunday morning to “report sick” and get some medication for my symptoms. Had to wait one full hour before I was attended to, but it’s OK. It’s not as if I was dying to get myself out before others around me get my illness – if you get what I mean. Anyway, I walked out of the clinic with three sets of medication. One for the throat, one for fever (which I eventually had, after falling asleep for an entire afternoon), and one for clearing up the nose.
As I woke up to have dinner and take my medication, I started to wonder what kind of “flu” I was down with, so I did a short search-up and discovered that the “flu” I was having is simply a common cold, and should not be confused with each other since they are distinct illnesses with different root causes (i.e. caused by different viral/bacterial strains)
Anyway, here’s the skinny:
Everyone that possesses one or more of the above symptoms (fever, runny nose, shivering, chills, malaise, dry cough, loss of appetite, body aches and nausea) is likely to be suffering what we call “influenza-like illness”, or ILI for short. Since there are loads of illnesses that fall under this category, doctors need to further diagnose and pin-point which is the exact culprit causing your discomfort. Some of the more common (and less malicious) examples are listed below:
- Common Cold (also known as nasopharyngitis) – A viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, which most commonly occurs in the nasal cavity, pharynx and larynx.
- Stomach Flu (also known as gastroenteritis) – An inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms typically include vomiting, and nausea.
- Influenza – which in itself contains many other subsets, so I will not discuss them in detail. Broadly classified into Type A, Type B, and Type C influenzas.
There is also something known as sinusitis, which refers to an inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, which is different from ILIs, but gives rises to similar discomforts around the face area. This is fundamentally different from your common cold.
The thing is, when you are visiting the doctor to get medication for the above ailments, you’re not actually curing the illness itself, but getting medication to suppress the symptoms. Got runny nose? Take Rhiniramine. Fever? Paracetamol. These drugs, although useful to make us feel better, do not actually fight the root cause of the illness, which is the virus itself. Till this day, there remains no effective vaccines for any of the mentioned illnesses, so until then, people that suffer from such illnesses will continue to get it time and again, even after the virus goes into remission.
(I found a site which gives a clear, simple explanation on the differences between Cold and Flu. Here’s the link)
Should get A*STAR to fund this sort of research. Imagine the amount of money we can make from getting everyone vaccinated against flu… ah.