Winter is the prime cold and flu season. Cold and flu viruses love cooler weather and lower humidity. We are also more likely to be indoors and closer to others when it's colder outside so weather also plays a role in the spread of viruses.
As we enter the colder months, it's important to be able to recognize the difference between a cold, the flu, or COVID-19. While these illnesses share some symptoms, key differences can help you determine which one you may be experiencing. I'll review the symptoms of each of these and provide you with a handy chart to compare them in order to figure out how to care for yourself. I'll share some of the nutrients, backed by science, that provide well-documented efficacy for immune strength and respiratory health, along with an all-in-one formula using the latest innovations in those nutrients called Qubeco.
TL/DR: Understanding the Symptoms
The onset of a seasonal allergy, common cold, flu, or COVID-19 infection can have similar symptoms. But there are subtle differences that can help you identify and differentiate between them. It is important to know the symptoms of each condition to help you manage your symptoms and seek medical attention if needed.
A cold is caused by a virus, and often starts with a sore throat, followed by a runny or stuffy nose, and a cough. Body aches, chills, and a fever are common, but they are usually mild. Symptoms generally improve after three to seven days, though a cough may last longer. Colds are more common in the winter and early spring.
Flu, caused by the influenza virus, causes symptoms that are similar to a cold, but they tend to be more severe. Unlike colds, the flu comes on suddenly, and often includes a fever, body aches, chills, and a headache. Fatigue and weakness are also common, and can last for several weeks. The flu can lead to serious complications, especially in children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.
COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, shares many symptoms with the flu, such as fever, cough, and fatigue. However, loss of taste or smell and shortness of breath are unique to COVID-19. People can also be asymptomatic, and still be carriers of the virus. COVID-19 can cause serious complications, especially in older adults and people with underlying health conditions.
Seasonal allergies, on the other hand, have different symptoms. Allergies include a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes but do not include a fever or body aches. Allergies are caused by allergens such as pollen, dust, and pet dander. Symptoms can last for weeks or months depending on the allergen.
It is important to note that the symptoms of each condition can overlap. If you are experiencing symptoms, it is best to get a professional medical opinion to determine the correct diagnosis and receive proper treatment. And in the meantime, Qubeco can help you mount the best immune defense possible.
COVID-19, cold, allergies and the flu: When to raise the alarm?
COVID-19, the common cold, seasonal allergies, and the flu have many similar symptoms. If you think you might have the symptoms of COVID-19, please contact your healthcare support system immediately. COVID is surging again, and new variants have arrived. It's not the time to "see how it plays out." Just as important, people often brush off the flu, yet every year, thousands of people die of the flu.
Diagnosing The Flu vs Cold
The common cold and the flu are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. The flu is caused by influenza viruses only, whereas the common cold can be caused by a number of different viruses, including rhinoviruses, parainfluenza, and seasonal coronaviruses, not to be confused with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Because they are so similar in how you feel their symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the flu and a cold just based on symptoms alone. In general, flu is worse than the common cold. Flu symptoms are typically more intense, and their onset is abrupt.
Colds are usually milder than flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose than people who have flu. Colds generally do not progress to more serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. However, flu can have serious associated complications, and hospitalization is a very real possibility.
What Are The Symptoms of a Cold
The most common symptoms of a cold are a runny nose, cough, congestion, and sore throat. The tell-tale is that you won't usually have the aches and elevated fever, and typically you'll feel better in a couple of days. The symptoms of a cold usually appear 1 to 3 days after exposure, and most people recover from a common cold in 3 to 10 days.
Also of note is seasonal allergies. Allergies can cause a runny nose and sneezing, but you may also have a sore throat from post-nasal drip, itchy, runny eyes, itchy ears, and an itchy nose. You may also experience a fever as your body works to bring inflammation to the affected site and try to deactivate the allergens with a lot of runny mucous.
Typically, your doctor will not suggest an antibiotic for cold symptoms or seasonal allergies unless they are progressing in a way that allows a bacterial infection to take hold. The warm, watery environment of mucous and inflammation can create a welcoming environment for a virus to take hold, too, so it's important to do all you can to support your body's natural defenses to ensure this doesn't happen.
What Are The Symptoms of the Flu
Unlike a cold, the flu virus tends to come on suddenly and quickly makes you feel really bad. Symptoms come on 1 to 4 days after exposure. The flu typically includes chills, fever, headache, aching muscles, and chills and sweats. You may also experience a nagging, persistent dry cough, exhausted abdominal muscles, and shortness of breath. Most notable with the flu is fatigue.
Your flu-like symptoms should get better after about 5 days. That said, even if your fever, chills, and aches are gone, you can still feel fatigued for a few weeks. For severe symptoms, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug.
What Are The Symptoms of COVID-19
We've all had to learn a lot about coronaviruses in the past few years! COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a rapidly mutating coronavirus (constant mutation is a hallmark of coronaviruses.) As we all learned, COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory illness. As we watched millions of Americans fall to COVID, we learned that COVID can cause severe illness, long-lingering symptoms, and even death. Our older populations and people with underlying medical conditions were devastated by the virus.
COVID-19 symptoms are similar to some symptoms of the flu and the common cold, but there are other important-to-note differences. COVID symptoms usually come on quickly and start 2 to 14 days after exposure. COVID symptoms include fever, chills, respiratory symptoms, congestion, shortness of breath, body aches, and a possible loss of taste and/or loss of smell. Unlike the flu, blood clots can be a dangerous effect of infection, cytokine storms can happen when the body's systems overreact, and children can experience multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Notable for people who have COVID is extreme long-lasting fatigue after the most obvious symptoms subside.
It's important to note that not everyone with COVID-19 will experience all of these symptoms, and some people can carry the infection but be asymptomatic. Remember, COVID-19 is a virus; an antibiotic will not help. Viral infections require antiviral medications.
How To Tell Quickly If You Have Flu, Cold, or COVID
What To Do To Care For Yourself
For a cold, we do not have a cure yet. Your best course of treatment for yourself is to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, even if you have a loss of appetite try to at least eat soup, reduce muscle aches and muscle pain with a hot soak in the bathtub, increase your vitamin C intake, and look to some of our long-time, time-proven natural support nutrients like Beta Glucan, Colostrom, and Vitamins C and E. Zinc can also help dry out the very watery symptoms of a cold. Many people also like to use a Neti pot to rinse their sinuses. If your symptoms don't clear, you may have a bacterial infection and need an antibiotic. It's not uncommon to also develop a sinus infection or ear infection. Rather than be miserable, your healthcare providers may be able to help you avoid these complications too.
For the flu, you can see your doctor and be prescribed antiviral medications to shorten the duration of the illness and reduce the severity of symptoms. An antibiotic will not help! Make sure to rest and stay hydrated. Dehydration can be a confounding factor in getting over the flu.
Be kind to other people and avoid "sharing" your infection with others. Stay home if you can. Wash your hands with soap and water often. Manage your person-to-person exposure with social distancing. Don't share personal items like cups, food, etc. Wear an N-95 mask around other people until your symptoms go away.
It's better to err on the side of caution if you're sick. Allergies can create an environment for you to get sick. Take care of yourself until you can get to a doctor, but don't just try to muscle through it. The flu and COVID can be dangerous if you are at high risk of complications (overweight, heart issues, heart disease, lung issues, lung disease etc.); seek medical care; go to the ER if you have chest pain/pressure, confusion, difficulty breathing, or blue discoloration in your lips or face.
What To Keep In Your Natural Medicine Chest
Three nutrients have been studied for decades and documented to be helpful to your respiratory health. Quercetin, colostrum, and beta-glucan are natural supplements that have been studied for their potential benefits in fighting cold, flu, and COVID-19.
Quercetin is a flavonoid that has been shown to have antiviral and viricidal activity against influenza A virus (IAV) and other viruses. It is also a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that may help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress associated with respiratory infections. Quercetin can help boost immunity by stimulating the production of white blood cells and enhancing the activity of natural killer cells, which are important immune system components. Some studies have suggested that quercetin may have potential benefits in the early stages of COVID-19, including reducing the duration of symptoms and improving clinical outcomes.
Colostrum is a milky fluid that is produced by mammals in the first few days after giving birth. It is rich in antibodies, growth factors, and other immune-boosting compounds that can help strengthen the immune system and fight off infections. Colostrum may help boost immunity by stimulating the production of white blood cells and enhancing the activity of natural killer cells. Some studies have suggested that colostrum may have potential benefits in reducing the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms.
Beta-glucan is a type of soluble fiber that is found in the cell walls of certain fungi, yeast, and grains. It has been shown to have immune-boosting properties and may help stimulate specialized cells in the immune system, such as macrophages, natural killer cells, and T cells, to fight off infections. Well-done clinical studies show that beta-glucan can reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms and reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infections. Beta-glucan has also been shown to have antiviral activity against influenza and COVID-19.
One Simple Resource
Quercetin, colostrum, and beta-glucan can help prime your body's immunity against cold, flu, and COVID-19. They can also reduce inflammation and oxidative stress that are associated with respiratory infections. Knowing that new innovations in these nutrients have dramatically increased their strength and absorption, Jim Caras, President of Health Direct, set about creating an easy-to-use, all-in-one formula when the pandemic began. He wanted a science-back resource to help people protect themselves from the respiratory devastation that had begun sweeping across the nation.
The immune response in your body is a delicate, coordinated thing. While many other people were offering immune-boosting formulas, Jim realized that immune system overstimulation and fatigue were actually the result of boosting. Consequently, Jim created a formula that would prime the immune system. Priming the immune system means giving your body nutrients that prepare it to perform better with immunomodulators. These are substances that help regulate the immune system's response, allow it to respond quickly when needed, and support a balanced cellular inflammatory response. Priming allows the body's other well-regulated systems to function properly; the research showed that boosting was creating chaotic responses in other systems in the body.
The result of hours of investigation and research by the Health Direct team was the creation of Qubeco - a cutting-edge formulation with Quercetin, Beta-glucan, and Colostrum supported by zinc, vitamin D, Pureway C (which stays active in the body for 24 hours with each dose), and Selenium. Unlike other companies, Health Direct went the extra mile - rather than just Quercetin, which is difficult to digest and assimilate, they found Quercetin Phytosome - a new form that is 50 times more powerful and delivers the equivalent of 1,000 mg of quercetin in a serving. It also acts as an ionophore to pull zinc into the cells so it can kill viruses.
A new form of Ultra-Pure Beta Glucan supports healthy intestinal inflammation levels and strong Natural Killer Cell activity, a critical part of your immune system. This ultra-purified form is between 30X and 60X more powerful than other Beta-Glucans.
Golden Colostrum provides twice the amount of immunoglobulins IG-30 antibodies found in normal colostrum. Your body transforms these antibodies into specific weapons to fight pathogens. Health Direct uses a non-GMO Colostrum iG30 that is free from hormones, including rBST and non-medically necessary antibiotics.
What The Science Says
The recommended dosage of quercetin, colostrum, and beta-glucan supplements for cold, flu, and COVID-19 varies depending on you, your health, your existing conditions, and the form of these nutrients you are taking.
For regular quercetin, a study showed efficacy in the peer-reviewed International Journal of General Medicine; it used a dosage of 1,000 mg of quercetin per day for 7 days in COVID-19 patients. Quercetin phytosome delivers the equivalent in a far more concentrated and bioavailable form. Another study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine used a dosage of 500 mg of quercetin daily for 30 days in COVID-19 patients.
For standard colostrum, a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine used a dosage of 500 mg of colostrum per day for 8 weeks in otherwise healthy adults for efficacy in treating respiratory infections. Of course Golden Colostrom has twice the amount of immunoglobulin IG-30 antibodies.
For beta-glucan, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition used 3 g of beta-glucan per day for 8 weeks in otherwise healthy adults to treat respiratory infections. The new form of Ultra-Pure Beta Glucan is 30 to 60 times more powerful.
Again, these are all studies with the regular forms of quercetin, beta-glucan, and colostrum. The newest innovations provide far more potent and effective immune support than these studies, which are representative of the hundreds of studies done on these nutrients.
The unique thing about Qubeco is that you get these nutrients in a more concentrated and more readily absorbed form, so you can take a smaller dose for greater effects and even better outcomes. With Qubeco less really is more!
It's worth repeating: natural supplements are a means of supporting and priming your immune system; they are not a substitute for medical treatment. If you get sick, it's important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any symptoms of a cold, flu, or COVID-19, especially if you are in a high-risk group for complications. Be sure to let your healthcare professionals know you are taking natural supplements.
While the nutrients in Qubeco are safe even for children, full disclosure with your care team about your supplements is crucial to ensure they do not interact with any medications you may be taking. Who knows, you may even expose them to new information that could help them and their other patients!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Lisa Moretti is a Certified Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN), the largest nutrition school in the world. She was at the top of her cohort in 2015. She's professionally been involved in the natural health and supplement world since 1981.