An overview of cold and flu management

  • N Schellack Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University
  • G Schellack
  • H Ismail Life Carstenhof Hospital
Keywords: colds, flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus, adenovirus, influenza virus, upper respiratory tract infection, flu vaccine, antivirals, neuraminidase, novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), coronavirus disease (COVID-19)


Common colds and flu are caused by very different viruses but share similar symptoms. The common cold is a self-limiting upper respiratory tract infection and it is typically caused by a rhinovirus, coronavirus or adenovirus. It usually resolves within 7–10 days. The flu is caused by the influenza virus and typically presents with headaches, myalgia, fever and generalised body aches. In South Africa deaths related to colds and flu are at least three times higher when compared to the USA. The burden of infections with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis (TB) in our country, heightens the risk of severe flu-related illness. However, treatment remains mostly symptomatic.

Author Biographies

N Schellack, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University

School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, South Africa

G Schellack

Pharmaceutical industry specialist in clinical research and applied pharmacology, South Africa

H Ismail, Life Carstenhof Hospital

Life Carstenhof Hospital, South Africa