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The real flu (influenza) is a severe acute illness of the respiratory tract, caused by influenza viruses, which are constantly changing. Less dangerous are colds or “flu-like infections” caused by other pathogens. While influenza begins with a sudden feeling of illness – with fever (high, often above 40°C), sore throat and dry cough, accompanied by severe muscle, limb, back or headaches – a cold develops slowly and is less severe. Typically, exhaustion and fatigue are much more pronounced in influenza.
Chinese medicine speaks of External Wind-Cold Invasion of the common cold or flu when it is characterised by sneezing, headache, a stuffy nose or watery nasal discharge, possible fever, but no sweating.