Is it a Cold or the Flu?

Signs of the common cold or the flu can be a little sniffle or cough.

How can you tell whether you have a cold or flu?

The most important thing is knowing the difference between a cold and the flu. The common cold is a viral infection of your upper respiratory tract (nose, nasal cavity, mouth, throat, and larynx). Most often caused by common human coronaviruses or rhinoviruses. The infection is typically harmless. A cold might last as little as a few days or as long as a couple of weeks.

Cold Symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion

Usually, with a cold, you might only have one, two, or all of these symptoms, and the severity can range from delicate sneeze to room-silencing hacking. While the common cold is unpleasant most people recover fairly quickly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “common colds are the main reason that children miss school and adults miss work. Each year in the United States, millions of people get the common cold. Adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more.”

The flu, on the other hand, is more serious.
The flu, or influenza, is a dangerous and highly contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. Each year, the flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and results in thousands of deaths. Many flu symptoms are similar to cold symptoms. Flu symptoms are typically more severe. A cold might force you to tote a tissue box around for a few days, but the flu can leave you bedridden.

The difference between the cold and the flu is the high fever. The flu comes with a higher fever. Both cold and flu can lead to other health complications. The flu can lead to pneumonia and lung infections, and complications can lead to death. The flu you need to nip in the bud immediately when it comes on. More about that in my next blog post.

Common cold

Several different viruses can cause a cold, but rhinoviruses are the most common cause. Wash your hands often throughout cold and flu season. Essential oils such as eucalyptus, niaouli, ravintsara, and rosemary all contain a chemical constituent called Eucalyptol or 1.8 cineole that is known to help the body with viruses. When you start having some sniffles, runny or stuffed up nose, and feel a cold starting to come on, try these 3 healthy tips with these essential oils.

3 Healthy Tips with Essential Oils for the Common Cold

Runny or Stuffed up nose

Sinus Inhalation:

5 drops Eucalyptus globulous or Eucalyptus radiata essential oil

1 bowl warm water

1 towel

Bring water to boil, add essential oil. Then take off the stove. Place a towel over your head as you breathe in the vapors for 10 – 20 minutes three times daily.

Contraindications: Do not use Eucalyptus in pregnancy, lactation, and children under 10 years old. For children from 3-8 years of age use 1 drop of Ravintsara in 1 bowl of warm water.

Sore throat

Usually, a cold starts with a sore throat. You can immediately start with a throat gargle to help reduce the inflammation in the tonsils and throat.

Sore Throat gargle:

2 drops Lemon essential oil

2 drops Tea Tree essential oil

1 drop Peppermint essential oil

4Tbsps sea salt

1 glass of warm water.

Mix the sea salt and essential oils in a bowl. Place 1 tsp sea salt mixture in a glass and add warm water, continue to stir the water until the sea salt mixture has dissolved into the water. Then gargle twice daily or when the throat feels sore.

Contraindications: Do not use in pregnancy, lactation, or with children under 2 years of age.

Think zinc too, the latest study of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found zinc as a cold remedy between 75mg and 100mg daily in zinc acetate lozenges, reduced the length of a cold by nearly 3 days- close to half the 7-day average. Here is zinc that you can take orally and zinc lozenges to use to soothe your throat.

Cough due to a Cold


 Coughs are common during a cold and are “productive” getting the germy mucus out of your lungs when you’re sick. Most will go away in a few days. After a cold, though, some “dry” cough lasts weeks or months because coughing irritates your lungs.

Dry Cough formulation:

8 drops Roman chamomile essential oil

8 drops Lemon essential oil

1oz. carrier oil (Almond or Apricot)

1oz. amber bottle

Place essential oils and carrier oil in an amber bottle. Roll the bottle between your hands to thoroughly mix the ingredients. Apply to chest, back, and corresponding reflex points on the hands and feet 3 times daily.

For Children’s formulations see my book, Common Scents, A Practical Guide to Aromatherapy.

Please feel free to ask questions at

Better Health and Happiness,


It is important to monitor your symptoms. Talk to your doctor if symptoms don’t get better.

For more information on How I overcame Covid.

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