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Is It Possible To Get Cold And The Flu At The Same Time? Here's What A Recent Study Says

Cold and flu symptoms: A recent study found that if you are suffering from either the flu or cold, then it is less likely to develop the other. Read here to know more about the study and preventive tips for cold and the flu in winter.

Is It Possible To Get Cold And The Flu At The Same Time? Heres What A Recent Study Says

Cold and flu: The study found if having one respiratory virus affects the odds of picking up a second one


  1. As it turns out, you cannot have cold and the flu at the same time
  2. Symptoms of cold and flu often overlap
  3. However, cold is different from the flu

Symptoms of cold and the flu often overlap. But, if you are hit by one of these infections, then it is less likely that you will get the other one. As part of a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers tried to find out if having one respiratory virus affects the odds of picking up a second one. The study explored how the flu and other respiratory viruses interact with each other through more than 44,000 cases of respiratory illness over the course of nine years.

Can you get cold and the flu at the same time?

Authors of the study found support for existence of negative interaction between influenza A and rhinovirus or common cold. Simply put, if someone is attacked by one virus, s/he is less likely to be susceptible to a second one. Study authors offered two possible explanations for this: 1) The two virus compete with each other for susceptible cells to attack; 2) Once infected with a virus, the cells might take on a protective antiviral state, which makes them resistant or less susceptible to the second virus.


Study finds that you cannot suffer from cold and the flu at the same time
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: 5 Amazing Home Remedies For Viral Fever That Actually Work

A similar relationship was found between influenza B and adenovirus. Adenovirus causes respiratory, eye and digestive symptoms. This, however, was true only at the broad population level rather than the individual level. This is because people who are hospitalised for one virus are less likely to be exposed to the other during the care, suggested study authors.

We asked Dr Gita Prakash, family physician at Max Hospital, if it is possible to get cold and the flu at the same time. Citing the similarity in the symptoms of the two diseases, she says, "Flu is characterised by cold and cough. Cold is a type of flu."

This, however, is not to infer that cold and the flu are same. The two are in fact different, but the symptoms of the two, as mentioned above, can often overlap.

Also read: What Is The Difference Between A Cold And The Flu?

Tips for prevention of cold and the flu

Incidence of cold and the flu is more widespread in winter. Weak immunity, poor diet and lifestyle make you susceptible to catching cold and/or the flu this time of the year. Following are some preventive tips that can help you stay away from these viral infections this season:

  • Avoid getting close to people who have cold and the flu as these are infectious diseases.
  • Use hand sanitisers regularly to avoid onset of cold and flu germs.
  • Keep your surroundings clean and practice good personal hygiene. Wash your hands before and after your meals, after using the washroom, etc.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Consume a healthy diet and be regular at exercise. The two can together boost your immunity offer protection from diseases.
  • Keep yourself hydrated and drink more warm fluids in winter to keep you warm and hydrated.

Drink warm and comforting fluids during the winter season
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: Magical Health Benefits Of Chicken Soup During Winter: You Simply Cannot Miss These

(Dr. Gita Prakash is a Family Physician at Max Multi Speciality Hospital, Panchsheel Park.)

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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.


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