Did you know that there are more than 200 viruses that cause the common cold? Meanwhile, only three known viruses are behind the flu?
Cold and influenza viruses are common contagious illnesses that affect millions every year. Typically, the height of flu season is from October through March, and the cold season is between August and April.
As you can see, some of these months overlap.
So, does that mean you can only be sick with one virus at a time? Or, is it really possible to get sick with both a cold and flu virus simultaneously?
The Flu Virus vs. a Common Cold
A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked into this question. The team found that yes, it is possible to be sick with a cold and the flu viruses at the same time; although, it’s not the norm.
The researchers conducted their studies in Scotland in the United Kingdom with 36,000+ participants who had various respiratory infections. The illnesses included adenoviruses, influenza A and B, rhinoviruses, and respiratory syncytial virus. The scientists followed these individuals from 2005-2013.
Medicine Net says that the flu viruses are stronger than the cold viruses and tend to overtake the cold that a person has been exposed to. So, when a person has both viruses in their system, the flu wins.
According to the site, Dr. Selma Nickbakhsh, one of the researchers from the University of Glasgow, goes on to explain the results of the study. “Our key finding shows that competition with flu in winter may explain why cold infections tend to diminish during winter seasons.”
Dr. Nickbakhsh elaborated, focusing on the rhinovirus, a very common source of the cold. She notes a regular decline in rhinovirus cases during the winter when flu season usually heats up. “In the same way, as lions and spotted hyenas compete for food resources, we believe respiratory viruses may be competing for resources in the respiratory tract,” said Dr. Nickbakhsh.
The results show that about 70% of the people in the study will probably not get sick with colds if they are already battling the flu.
How to Help Prevent Both Viruses
You’d think that having the flu and a cold at the same time isn’t possible. While it’s less likely, we now it’s still possible to house both viruses simultaneously.
Luckily, there are a few things that are proven to be effective in preventing you from getting sick:
- Get the flu shot every new flu season. The vaccine is updated every year to fight the flu strains expected to be most prevalent during that season.
- Avoid contact with people who are contagious with the cold and flu. If you come into contact with a person who you know was sick, wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water. Do the same any time you come into contaminated surfaces, including eating utensils and cups, doorknobs, and railings.
- Make sure that you get extra rest, especially if you’re feeling run-down.
- Boost your immune system by taking extra Vitamin C. Avoid eating sweets because they reduce your ability to fight these infections. Excess sugar can slow down the immune system, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to do when you take Vitamin C.
- Drink clear fluids to stay hydrated and stay away from milk products if you’re coughing to reduce phlegm build-up.
Do you have any questions about staying healthy during the flu season? Have you received your vaccine for the 2019-2020 flu season yet? Passport Health can help. Give us a call at , or book an appointment online and speak to a travel health nurse.
Written for Passport Health by Sabrina Cortes. Sabrina is an experienced Copywriter and Founder/Owner of Write with Sabrina.com. She is dedicated to helping small businesses create engaging and relevant SEO material that reflects the brand and its values while maintaining a consistent voice. Sabrina lives with her family in the breathtaking mountains of western North Carolina.