South African Family Practice

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Colds and flu – an overview of the management

Halima Ismail, Natalie Schellack


The common cold and flu are two very different viruses that share very similar symptoms. The common cold is a self-limiting upper respiratory tract infection and it is caused by the rhinovirus, coronavirus or the adenovirus. It usually resolves within 7-10 days. The flu is caused by the influenza virus and usually presents with headaches, myalgia, fever and body aches. There is no place for antibiotic usage in colds and flu and there is no clinical evidence which suggests that using antibiotics alters the course of the disease or prevents secondary infection. Treatment is mainly symptomatic and includes many over the counter medicines, antivirals and herbal treatment.

Keywords: colds, flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus, adenovirus, influenza, upper respiratory tract infections, herbal medicine, antivirals, over-the-counter medicine

AJOL African Journals Online