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Cold and Flu in Chinese Medicine > Diagnosis of Cold and Flu
Diagnosis of Cold and Flu

According to the different signs and symptoms, cold and flu can be classified into two main types and other less common ones according to TCM disharmony patterns.

1. Wind-Heat Type Cold and Flu

This type is mainly caused by influence of both wind and heat evils. It is commonly seen in the spring and summer and tends to be more prevalent in the southern China region, because of a relatively hot climate. Nasal congestion, sneezing and a minor fear of wind blowing are general signs of an attack of a wind evil in cold and flu. These symptoms are usually thought of as an exterior syndrome of the body. Heat evils are generally characterized by yellow and thick body secretions. For example, a fever or high fever, sweating, sneezing with thick nasal secretions and a cough with thick phlegm may indicate an influence of a heat evil. In the case of wind-heat invasion, a thin yellow tongue coating and a rapid and floating pulse also indicate an exterior syndrome pattern. Since wind-heat can easily consume body fluids, individuals may experience a dry mouth and sore throat.

2. Wind-Cold Type Cold and Flu

This type is mainly caused by an influence of both wind and cold evils. It may be more prevalent in winter or in cold environments such as those with air-conditioning. Cold evils lead to feeling cold, making things contract and obstructing the flow of qi. Therefore, a fear of cold and an absence of sweating are major signs of cold invasion. Cold evils are also often related to clear body secretions, nasal congestion, sneezing with clear discharge, absence of fever or a low grade fever and a cough with white and thin phlegm. A thin white tongue coating and a floating and tense pulse are common signs of cold evils. As cold evils obstruct the flow of protective qi in the skin and muscles, individuals may often experience myalgia (muscular pain).

3. In addition to wind-heat and wind-cold type cold and flu, there are other types caused by evils such as dampness and summer-heat evils. It may likely be accompanied by some other disharmony patterns such as a qi deficiency and or yin deficiency too. Typically, they occur in summer. Damp-heat type is mostly seen, which presents with a fever, slight aversion to cold, absent or only mild sweating, a heavy and distending pain in the head, chest oppression, thirst, nausea, limb soreness or pain and scanty and yellowish urine.

It should be noted here that a high fever in any type of cold and flu, especially one that is persistent for more than eight hours and is not responding to either Chinese or Western medicine should be reported to your health care professional to be evaluated.