Winter is coming – and with it will come the usual increase in cold and flu like illnesses. So let’s take a look at what that means for you and how you can help ease colds this season.
What is the difference between a Cold and the Flu?
refers to upper respiratory tract infections, usually caused by a virus from the rhinovirus strain. They usually start with a sore throat, runny nose, blocked nose, coughing, sneezing and nasal discharge. Symptoms often progress to nasal congestion, earache and occasionally a cough. You may have low-grade fever or a mild headache.
Generally healthy people will get better in 5-7 days because the body’s immune system can take care of the infection on its own.
Flu is not the same as the common cold. Flu is caused by a different virus and the symptoms are more severe and last longer than a cold. It is an infection with a virus from the Influenza strain.
The main symptoms of the flu include a temperature (38.5 degrees or higher), headache, runny or blocked nose, sore throat, dry chesty cough, tiredness, aching muscles and joint or limb pain, loss of appetite, upset stomach and diarrhoea. Onset is usually sudden.
If you get the flu you are normally quite unwell, needing to stay in bed for several days. Flu symptoms will be at their worst on the second or third days and last for around a week. If you suspect you have the flu and/or if your symptoms don’t improve or get worse, seek medical attention.
If you are in a high risk category (children aged under five, people aged over 65, immune-compromised, pregnant women, people with asthma, and smokers) seek medical attention straight away, it is best to be monitored by your healthcare professional to prevent possible complications.
What can you do to keep healthy in the winter months?
- Keep warm
- Wash your hands. Good hygiene is always important for reducing transmission
- Don’t share cups or eating utensils with others
- Eat a healthy diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables
- Avoid alcohol and smoking as they can reduce immune function
- Exercise regularly to keep fit and healthy
- Sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow, rather than onto your hand
- Avoid contact with people who are currently experiencing cold and flu symptoms
What to do to: To help ease the symptoms and aid in recovery, the best thing to do is usually bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids. There are some other remedies that may help relieve the symptoms and help you get back on track.
- Echinacea, Olive Leaf, Astragalus, Andrographis, Horseradish, Garlic – These herbs have shown to enhance immune function, and potentially reduce likelihood of contracting colds, as well as reducing duration and severity of symptoms.
- Vitamin C, Zinc, Cod Liver Oil – These dietary supplements are also known to enhance immune function and the Vitamins A & D in Cod Liver Oil can be particularly beneficial for the upper respiratory tract.
- Drink plenty of fluids – including water, herbal teas, the flu brew tea, soups and broths that are warming and nutritious. Also avoid coffee, tea and alcohol as can be dehydrating.
- Fresh ginger, garlic & chili. Eating these raw and using in cooking can help to bolster immunity. You can also drink ginger tea for its’ warming effects.
- Salt water gargles, or hot water with lemon and honey can help relieve a sore throat
- Steam inhalations with eucalyptus or peppermint oil can assist nasal congestion
- If you develop a cold, stay home from work or school, keep warm and drink plenty of fluids.
- Rest, rest & more rest – This is possibly the number one thing to do to help you on the road to recovery. Whilst it can be difficult in our fast-paced lives, rest your body will thank you for it.