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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Take a Breather—The Comforts of Aromatherapy During Cold and Flu Season

Posted: November 11, 2013
WEB EXCLUSIVE: Take a Breather—The Comforts of Aromatherapy During Cold and Flu Season

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The specific organism which causes the common cold is almost always a virus—not a bacteria—and medical authorities estimate that approximately 200 rhinoviruses can cause similar, familiar symptoms.

Colds and flu are both caused by viruses. A flu infection is a far more serious viral infection, potentially fatal to anyone with a disabled immune system, or someone who is simply vulnerable, such as an elderly person or a newborn baby. But it is often a secondary bacterial infection which poses the greatest threat to flu-sufferers.

Bacteria does play a role in the symptoms we associate with cold and flu. Although the initial infection that causes a cold is due to a virus, the symptoms that can be attributed to virus infection only last a couple of days. Colds can last a week or two, because damaged cells in the airways become susceptible to a secondary infection by bacteria already present there.

In defense, the body produces the protective mucus that causes the misery of sneezing (the body’s attempt to expel the predators), blocked nose and a constant cough. Body temperature may rise, producing fever, in further attempts to fry the invading colonies of pathogens. Mucus production continues until the body becomes immune to the virus, and the cells in the airways regenerate a tougher outer layer that is no longer open to bacterial attack.

Prevention: How far have we really come?

Once the leaves start to turn and the frost is on the pumpkin, it seems that every clinic and drug store chain in town advertises flu shots. Here’s the catch: With approximately 200 rhinoviruses currently in circulation, it is impossible to create a vaccine which addresses all of them.