5 Ways to Protect Against Cold and Flu All Year Long
Even though illness is more common in the colder seasons, it's important to protect against cold and flu throughout the year. These tips can help.
Why Are Colds and Flu More Common in the Fall and Winter?
Everyone knows that they are more likely to get sick in colder weather, but the CDC has pinned down cold and flu season to a specific range of weeks. While some people might become ill as early as October, cold and flu season doesn't officially begin until December. Research has recognized that most of the new cases of flu and colds end with the last days of February, although you still face a higher risk of getting sick throughout March.
The reason that the majority of colds and flu cases occur during this time is that outdoor activity is limited. More people spend their time in enclosed living spaces with the windows closed. This makes it easier for respiratory viruses to pass from one person to another, leading to family members passing their colds on to each other.
Another factor that makes illness more common in the colder weather is that the air is dryer. People use HVAC systems to heat their homes, and that process eliminates the moisture in the air. When you do use your heating system, it can help to also operate a humidifier. Otherwise, the dry air can weaken your immune system and inhibit respiratory functioning.
Why Do People Get Sick in the Summer?
Even though influenza viruses spread more easily in the colder months, they are still present in the spring and summer. This means you can still catch a summertime cold or flu, and you can still pass these viruses onto others. Even though these instances are rarer, you should be aware that the risk still exists.
You'll face a higher probability of getting the flu if you live in a tropical or coastal region. Similarly, you're more likely to get sick if you vacation in a tropical resort area. That's because the humidity in the air makes it easier for viruses to live and spread through the respiratory system. While you don’t want to breathe air that’s too dry, too much moisture in the air can also become a problem when combined with hot temperatures.
What Are the Differences Between a Cold and the Flu?
How you treat your illness will depend on whether you have a cold or the flu. If you don't have medical training, you may not be able to tell the difference between these two conditions. The following lists of symptoms can help you identify your condition.
Symptoms of a Cold
- runny or stuffy nose
- sore throat
Symptoms of the Flu
- high temperature/fever
- muscle aches
- congestion and sneezing
Even if you think you have identified your illness, you should still see your doctor. They may be able to offer you a treatment that will help you feel better sooner.
How Can You Protect Against Cold and Flu All Year Round?
Everyone can reduce their risks for developing a seasonal illness by following a few good lifestyle practices. These tips will help you protect against cold and flu all year round.
1. Get Plenty of Sleep
Researchers have just begun to delve into the link between sleep and the immune system. One important discovery is that people are more likely to get sick when they are sleep-deprived because sufficient sleep is necessary for maintaining healthy levels of the immune system's T cells; the cells responsible for identifying and eliminating harmful invaders. It has also been found that the circadian rhythm -- the body's 24-hour clock -- governs the expression of immune cells. Without adequate sleep, your circadian rhythm becomes disrupted, which also affects immune system health.
2. Keep Your Stress in Check
One of the primary reasons it's important to reduce stress daily is that higher stress levels compromise your immune system. If your body is reacting to more stress hormones, it will be weaker when a virus does invade your body. Practice yoga, meditate, exercise or engage in an enjoyable hobby to lower your stress levels.
3. Strengthen Immunity With a Supplement
You can also reduce your risk for a cold or flu by strengthening your immune system. A high-quality dietary supplement, such as Immunochron, will give your body the nutrients it needs for heightened immunity. If a virus attacks your respiratory system, your body will have the resources it needs to better fight that health risk. Even if you can't avoid a cold or the flu, a daily supplement can help make it more likely that your symptoms will be minimal.
4. Drink More Water
There are a few different ways that staying hydrated is essential to your natural immunity. Primarily, drinking more water will help your internal organs and biological systems function more efficiently. A hydrated body will carry more oxygen to the brain and other organs. Water will also flush toxins out of the body before they can do harm or compromise your immunity.
5. Eat a Plant-Based Diet
Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet will help boost your immune system. In addition to giving you a steady supply of vitamins and fiber, veggies and fruits deliver helpful bacteria to your gut. These bacteria help to fortify your immune system so you can recover faster from viral illnesses. Be sure to eat a wide range of colorful vegetables since the color of the skin contains different antioxidants and nutrients.
Routine doctor visits can help you stay safe from colds and the flu if you're in a higher risk category. If you're disabled, a senior or pregnant, regular checkups can help you stay healthier. Your doctor may also offer treatments to supplement your immune system's natural protection.