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A cold, the flu, or COVID-19? If you're not sure, don't worry. Just check out eLibrary Minnesota, your one-stop shop for respiratory infection information.

A graphic with the text "Learn at the Library: Cold + Flu Season" and a photo of a sick cartoon cat.

I recently woke up with a stuffy nose and scratchy throat, and that is how I knew the season was upon us. I swear the temperature was in the 90's not even a couple of weeks ago, but here we are. In addition to my previously mentioned back pain, it’s safe to say that I did not have the best couple of days following that morning. I only had a cold, but it did make me think of what differentiates the common cold, the flu, and COVID-19, and the alternative ways to deal with them. Could Elderberry be the secret? To find out, I turned to  eLibrary Minnesota's nursing databases.

Not all respiratory infections are created equal. While many symptoms seem similar and can often be interchangeable, it is essential to recognize the differences to get the proper treatment, especially with our recent collective experience with COVID-19. COVID-19 is still very much present and is not going away. “Decoding respiratory symptoms: Differentiating between cold, flu, COVID-19, or allergies and how to treat each naturally” spells out the differences between the respiratory infections we often deal with at this time of year. This article provides a checklist that you can use to categorize your symptoms to have a better idea of what's ailing you. For example, the common cold, the flu, and COVID-19 all share headaches and dry cough as symptoms, but only COVID-19 can cause loss of smell. You can also explore the diverse causes of these infections and ways to treat them at home, and get some prevention tips, too. Give this a read the next time you experience any symptoms!

While researching, I discovered the secret to curbing respiratory infections this winter: Elderberry. This is a fruit known for its anti-inflammatory properties and immune system support. Rich in antioxidants and vitamins, elderberries have been widely used to relieve various illnesses. “Effects of Elderberry Usage in Preventing and Treating Upper Respiratory Infections,” available via ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health Premium, explores the viability of using Elderberry as a preventative measure and treatment. The authors found positive improvements in symptom management/reduction and length of illness. Elderberry can be consumed as supplements in the form of pills or teas. While the tests resulted in positive results, there are still no evidence-based practices linking Elderberry supplementation directly to combating viral infections. Still, findings support the effect it can have on overall immune support. 

So, there you have it. If you're ever feeling under the weather, be sure to consult the nursing databases in eLibrary Minnesota. You never know what you might learn about elderberries. Just don't forget to consult with your doctor before taking any new supplements, just to be on the safe side.

Written by

Jesus Maldonado Sanchez
Marketing & Communications Generalist
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