According to Answers.com, anything from 340 million to a billion of us catch a flu every year across the world. Some people suffer from a common cold several times a year, others rarely catch one. But both illnesses can make you feel dreadful and both are more likely to hit you during the autumn and winter, which is why people sometimes call it a seasonal cold or seasonal flu.
Flu symptoms last longer and feel more serious than a cold, but neither illness is much fun! Here’s what you need to know about colds and flu, including ten sensible tips about how to prevent them.
What are the symptoms of colds and flu?
A cold can leave you feeling headachey with a dry, chesty cough, tired and weak. You might suffer from aches and pains all over and sometimes have a fever with a temperature of 38˚C, 100˚F or more. Influenza is usually worse than a cold, often making you feel completely worn out and very poorly. Doctors recommend you stay in bed and rest until the symptoms fade and your body temperature goes back down.
The best way to avoid infectious diseases like colds and flu would be to avoid other people, but that isn’t practical. If you can’t isolate yourself and don’t want to, here are our top ten tips for flu prevention, fresh from the professionals at Doctify.
Ten expert tips for flu prevention
- First and foremost, have the flu jab. The injection can cut your risk of getting flu by as much a 50%. Because the virus mutates annually, you need an annual vaccination.
- Get enough sleep. Most of us need 7-9 hours a night, and having less sleep than you naturally need leaves you more vulnerable to illnesses and disease. Sleep boosts the immune system and could be to blame if you keep on catching cold after cold, or have more than one bout of flu a year.
- Eat well. Consume your five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. If you can’t manage that, juice up a load of fruit and veg every morning and boost your immune system that way.
- Wash your hands regularly – Your eyes and mouth are the most vulnerable points, being the areas you unconsciously you touch the most with your hands. Avoid touching railings, stairs or handles in public places if you can, and you’ll steer clearer of germs in the first place.
- Cut down on alcohol. It affects the quality of your sleep negatively, simply because your body is busy processing and reducing the alcohol, which delays the normal recovery of your cells.
- Have a cuppa – and make it tea! Hot tea with lemon and honey tastes marvellous. When you drink hot tea and breathe in the steam, you stimulate the tiny hair follicles in your nose called cilia to reject germs better. Add the fact that lemon thins the mucus and honey has antibacterial properties, and you can see why it can be so effective.
- Eat lots of protein. Research proves that a lower protein intake can deplete the immune system. If you have a regular diet that can mean meat, fish and fowl. If you’re vegetarian, eggs and nuts are protein-rich, and if you’re vegan make sure you get plenty of nuts, tofu, tempeh, edamame, lentils and pulses.
- Steer clear of lots of physical contact between people! If you can avoid getting too close to other people, do it. If you usually prefer to kiss friends and family hello rather than shake hands, set aside the kissing until the spring and shake hands the old fashioned way through the winter.
- Have plenty of exercise. Remember, you don’t need to always go to the gym, jog or run. Brisk walking is excellent exercise and research shows it’s just as effective as going for a run. Bear in mind a gym can be full of people with colds, or brewing colds and flu, whereas the great outdoors tends to be less filled with germs! If you do go to the gym, put a towel on the equipment you use to stop germs from other gym-goers getting on your skin.
- Breathe other people’s germs out – If someone coughs or sneezes near you, don’t breathe it in. Breathe out long and gently instead to help stop the germs getting into your nose and mouth.
If you get the flu and want to see a really good doctor, visit Doctify to find an excellent one near you.