Sniffle, sniffle, it's flu season ... again!

Published: Wednesday | September 12, 2012 Comments 0

Ivy Whyte, Guest Writer

Feverish!

Lethargic!

Under the weather!

You could be getting a bout of the flu. The annual flu season runs from September to April.

Colds are a leading cause of visits to the doctor and missed days from work and school. Most allergy symptoms appear in the cooler months, when temperatures are fluctuating, especially at nights. The influenza and other respiratory viruses also peak in cooler months. As temperatures fall, people spend more time indoors and less time in the sunlight.

Also, because the days are shorter, they leave home in the dark, sit at their desk all day, get home after dark, so there's no time and place for some sunlight.

This means their vitamin D level falls, and they are more likely to spread viruses from one person to another. It isn't that these pathogens magically appear at certain times of the year - they're always around. It's our ability to respond to them that changes with the seasons.

Real causes of colds, flu

Colds and flu are caused by viruses, vitamin D deficiency and a weakened immune system.

Symptoms

The common cold, flu and respiratory allergies have symptoms in common, like sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, and cough. Sometimes there's fever, general aches and pain, lethargy, sore throat and general weakness.

Prevention

1 Wash hands regularly with soap and water.

2 Avoid putting unwashed hands to your eyes, nose and mouth. Most cold viruses are spread from a surface to your hands and then to your face.

3 Clean contact surfaces frequently - door knobs, handrails, telephone.

4 Avoid close contact with persons with flu-like symptoms, e.g. handshaking, hugging and kissing.

5 Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables - look for the yellows, reds, oranges - citrus, papaya, melon, pineapple, apple. These have more vitamin C and A.

6 Avoid all dairy products, processed foods that contain excess refined sugar and salt. These depress the immune system and trigger allergies.

7 Take a good-quality multivitamin and mineral preparation. Extra vitamin C is also helpful.

8 Get some sunlight; the safest time is between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

9 Over-the-counter medication will help to relieve the symptoms. However, if you are hypertensive, do not take multi-symptom preparations.

Home remedies

These include the use of good old garlic, lime and honey, fresh ginger and aloe vera. Hot drinks such as teas and broths (chicken or vegetable) are beneficial. Be sure to drink a lot of fluids - water, fruit juices, lemonade, coconut water. For a sore throat, gargle with warm salt water with vinegar.

If symptoms persist, ask your pharmacist to recommend a good over-the-counter preparation. If relief is not had soon, see your doctor.

Ivy Whyte is a registered nurse at The Gleaner Company; email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com.


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