It's a fact of life: we all feel unwell at some time or other. Our airways are one of the major entry sites for pathogens into the body, so very often it is the airways - the nose, throat, trachea (windpipe), bronchi and lungs - that suffer the effects of infection. Sometimes, all that's needed is bed-rest, plenty of liquids and an effective, self-administered remedy. However, it is important to differentiate between a simple common cold and a potentially more serious illness, such as influenza.
A cough is a symptom of an underlying condition. It may be caused by environmental irritants, by the common cold, by influenza, or by an inflammation of the bronchi (bronchitis).
A cold, also known as the common cold or a head-cold, is caused by a viral infection. Symptoms include sneezing, a blocked and runny nose a sore throat and cough. A cold sometimes causes a slight fever, though not always.
Flu is short for influenza, the name of a highly contagious viral infection of the airways. It causes aches throughout the entire body, fever, headaches and a feeling of tiredness. This is followed by cold-like symptoms, including a sore throat, a blocked nose and a persistent, dry cough which may last for weeks after the initial infection. Influenza can be very dangerous, especially for older or infirm patients and children. Your health professional can advise you about influenza virus vaccines.