Colds and flu are infectious illnesses caused by different groups of viruses. Flu tends to be more severe and longer lasting than a cold but both cause coughing, sneezing, tiredness and a whole raft of unpleasant symptoms that will have you reaching for warm drinks, wads of tissues and lots of sympathy.
Does catching a 'chill' give you a cold?
In an experiment from the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff, students who chilled their feet in cold water for 20 minutes, had twice as many colds over the next 5 days than their ?non-chilled' peers. So why was this? The researchers concluded that the people who got colds already had the virus in their noses but were not experiencing symptoms. The chilling of their feet caused the blood vessels in their noses to constrict preventing the defences in their noses from fighting off the infection. So cold weather will not give you a cold' but may hasten a cold to develop if you're already harbouring one. In other words your mum was partially right when she told you to ?wrap up warm'.
Can the herbal remedy Echinacea help?
Echinacea is a daisy like purple flower originally used by native Americans to treat coughs, colds and sore throats. It's now commonly used as a herbal remedy to do the same job -but does this ancient remedy really work? There are lots of studies on this and some imply that Echinacea does help prevent infection by boosting the immune system, but the findings are mixed. That said, in 2012 researchers who carried out the largest ever clinical study of Echinacea did prove that Echinacea can reduce the duration of a cold, even if it can't stop you from catching one in the first place.