Cold and flu can be debilitating, especially due to the fact that you can be more susceptible to them as you age. And sickness always seems to pick the worst times to strike: when you’re caring for family members, during the holidays or when work piles up and your immune system is already compromised.
The good news is that there are precautions that you can take year-round to protect against cold and flu so that they don’t have the chance to get a foothold in your system.
Are Cold and Flu Typical During Warmer Months?
Cold and flu sufferers are most at risk of getting sick during the fall and winter months when indoor heat, crowds, frequent hand-shaking and long hours spent inside make people more susceptible. Additionally, viruses tend to be more stable during the cooler, dryer fall and winter months, which could be another reason that cold and flu peak during this time. That being said, it is still possible to contract cold and flu at any time during the year.
Colds and flus are caused by viruses, which are difficult to develop an immunity to because they mutate rapidly, resulting in so many different variations that the chances of catching the exact same variation are fairly low. Thus, your body may create antibodies to fight one variation, only to leave you with little protection if you catch a different variation weeks later.
Despite the slim chance of developing immunity to cold and flu viruses, there are things you can do to prepare your body for the battle.
Tips to Keep Cold and Flu at Bay
Getting your flu shot is one of the most effective methods of preventing cold and flu. When you get your flu shot, you’re not only getting protection from a real virus, but you’re also getting protection from the aggravating side effects of the vaccine.
Flu vaccination is available through your doctor’s office or community health clinic. Both are easy ways to get a flu shot. If you don’t have a regular doctor, call your local public health agency for more information about available vaccinations and where to get them done.
Stress is one of the biggest obstacles to good health. The stress of everyday life can really put a strain on your immune system, ultimately weakening it. Reduce stress in your life as much as possible. Take time for yourself, appreciating the simple things in life, such as watching a sunset or smelling a flower. Also, get enough sleep and don’t overwork yourself — your body needs plenty of rest to help combat viruses and bacteria effectively.
We all know that sleep is important for our health and well-being, but sometimes it’s difficult to get enough. Sleep deprivation is extremely common in our modern world, and it can take you by surprise when you wake up feeling sick with a fever and other symptoms.
Lack of sleep can slow your body’s ability to fight off infections, so make sure to get at least seven hours of rest each night, even if it takes you longer than usual to fall asleep. Sleeping can also reduce stress, which helps your immune system work faster and better. This will help keep you healthy all year long.
Heavy drinking can weaken your immunity and leave you more susceptible to cold and flu. It is important to keep your alcohol consumption at a moderate level, such as around one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men. If you are not sure how much alcohol you should consume, it is recommended that you have no more than two drinks per day.
Smoking cigarettes is one of the worst things you can do to your body because it damages your lungs and the entire circulatory system. Smoking also increases your risk of contracting serious illnesses such as pneumonia and emphysema, which cause wheezing and coughing. If you’re a smoker, quitting is the best way to prevent cold and flu.
Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that can boost your immune system. They are also a great source of fiber, which helps to keep you regular. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables daily to help ward off cold and flu.
You need a variety of vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system strong, and it can be beneficial to supplement with these even if you’re feeling healthy. However, many people don’t get enough of the vitamins and minerals they need to maintain a strong immune system, especially at this time of year when the incidence of cold and flu cases is higher than usual.
A daily multivitamin and multimineral supplement can compensate for poor nutrition during the fall and winter when it’s important to consume more foods that are rich in various vitamins and minerals. People who regularly take multivitamins tend to be healthier all year long, not just when sick. Some good vitamins to keep your immune system strong are vitamin C and B-complex.
Vitamin C is a good way to boost your immunity and can also help to prevent cold and flu. It is important that you take it every day. B-complex is another important group of vitamins that boost your immune system. It contains all of the B vitamins except for biotin, which is important for metabolism. If you don’t take a vitamin B-complex supplement every day, you may be more susceptible to cold and flu.
Drinking plenty of water is important to improve hydration levels and keep your immune system strong all year. Water also helps flush toxins from your body and carries nutrients and other substances to your cells for them to utilize. Many people are dehydrated in the winter months because it is so cold and dry, and this can leave you at risk of getting sick more often.
For A 30-Day Guide to Drinking More Water, click here.
It’s important to wash your hands often throughout the day, especially if you’re in contact with many people or visiting public places. It is especially helpful to be mindful of hand washing after sneezing or coughing into your hands, touching a doorknob or elevator button and when preparing food.
Physical activity can help you build muscles and strong bones and maintain a healthy weight. Exercising also increases blood flow, which helps your immune system function better and keeps cold and flu at bay.
When you exercise, your body naturally produces endorphins that work to improve your mood and help boost your immune system. If you’re feeling down or depressed, exercising is a good way to relieve stress. You don’t have to do high-impact exercises that leave you breathless. Simply walking daily can help too.
A warm bath can be very relaxing and help relieve muscle tension and stress. Start with a warm bath every night, then gradually increase the duration of the bath. Also, if you suffer from muscle tension or arthritis, consider starting your bath with an Epsom salt or magnesium bath; both of these can help calm your muscles and relieve pain.
Chamomile tea is known to be a good treatment for illnesses. It can also help your immune system. You can drink it as a hot tea, or use it along with other herbal teas for a different blend, but make sure you do not add honey to the tea.
Cold and flu are an inescapable part of life, but they don’t have to make your life terrible. The key to recovery is prevention, which is often much easier than cure. Practicing healthy habits can keep cold and flu at bay. Cold and flu sufferers can be especially prone to catching these infections in the fall and winter, but you could start getting enough rest, eating healthy foods and keeping stress in check no matter the season to ensure good health all year long.
For more tips on How to Ramp Up Your Immunity as You Age, click here.