Chinese Medicine recognizes all the various kinds of symptoms associated with cold and flu viral infections and categorizes them into two distinct patterns of illness. The terms used for these umbrella patterns fall under the rubric of External Pathogens and are categorized as either Wind Cold or Wind Heat. This is an important distinction as their treatment principles and guiding herbal formulas are quite different.
In theory, it is Wind that carries the pathogenic factor into our body, whether it be cold or hot in nature. Both are seen as external pathogens, meaning the cold or heat is trapped between the person’s skin and muscle layers hence the guiding treatment principle is to Release the Exterior and Expel Wind. If we do this early enough in the conditions evolution, we may be able to stop the invasion. If the pathogen is due to a bacterial infection, appearing early on as Wind-Heat, we may not however be completely able to stop the pathogen altogether. Chinese medicine will still however be able to alleviate symptoms, shorten the course of the infection and prevent complications.
In Chinese medicine, it is vital to approach these External conditions very seriously, as in this system of medicine, if Wind is allowed to penetrate beyond the muscle layer into the Interior of the body, many diseases may arise.
Why does Wind invade? This is due to either to the body’s Qi being either temporarily and relatively weak or to the pathogenic factor being quite strong. Temporary and relative Qi weakness can be due to lack of sleep, overwork, excess sexual activity, irregular diet, stress or any combination of these factors. A strong pathogenic factor can enter the body no matter how strong the body’s Qi is.
Often, symptoms will begin as wind-cold and then will transform into wind-heat within a couple of days, though it may also begin as wind-heat. If allowed to progress, both of these conditions may transform into another presentation, called phlegm-heat in the lungs, which is characterized by coughing and the copious production of thick yellow sputum. At other times, wind may combine with dampness and affect the stomach, causing a stomach flu with vomiting and diarrhea.
Western Medicine: The Common Cold Cause: Viral Infections
The common cold is a viral infection of the lining of the nose, sinuses, throat, and large airways Common viral infections such as an upper respiratory infection (URIs) can typically be detected by the following:
Bacterial Infections In some cases we become more concerned that the infection may be caused by a bacterial infection. Bacterial infections may be the result of "secondary infection" (meaning that the virus initiated the process but a bacteria followed) when the symptoms:
Persist longer than two weeks High, persistent temperature Fever gets worse a few days into the illness rather than improving Chronic cough Localized redness, heat, swelling and pain
Bacterial infections can be much more severe as bacteria can cause organ damage or other severe complications. This is why in SOME cases, antibiotics are suggested.
Common bacterial infections can be related to the following conditions: Otitis Media (bacterial inner ear infection) Conjunctivitis/Pink Eye (bacterial infection of the superficial eye) Sinusitis (bacterial sinus infection) Strep throat or pharyngitis (bacterial throat infection) Cellulitis (bacterial skin infection) Septic Arthritis (bacterial joint infection) Pneumonia (bacterial lung infection) Acute Bronchitis (bacterial infection of the lung passageways) Acute Cholecystitis (bacterial infection of the gall bladder) Intra-abdominal Abscess (bacterial collection located in the abdominal cavity) Abscess general (bacterial collection located anywhere under the skin) Urinary Tract Infection (bacterial bladder infection) Urethritis (bacterial infection of the urethra) Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (bacterial infection of the female reproductive organs)