Flu and colds are common infections during the chilly seasons. But they can also happen year-round, affecting children and adults alike.
Viruses cause colds and flu. However, they are different in their symptoms and the duration of the illness. Invest in your health to lessen the risk of catching colds and other illness-causing viruses.
Colds and Flu: Similarities and Differences
You may think colds and flu are the same. While these are both contagious respiratory illnesses, their difference lies in the viruses that cause them.
Flu comes from influenza viruses and has more severe symptoms such as fever or chills, headache, extreme fatigue or malaise, muscle aches and pains, dry cough, and sore throat. Symptoms of flu can also last for a week or even longer.
Meanwhile, a cold is an upper respiratory tract infection. It usually lasts for a few days and may be due to different types of viruses, including parainfluenza, rhinoviruses, and seasonal coronaviruses.
Colds are also more common but milder than flu, affecting millions of individuals yearly. The symptoms of colds include sore throat, runny nose, congestion, and sneezing.
Because common colds and flu have almost the same symptoms, it can be challenging to tell which one you’ve got based on the symptoms alone. Colds usually do not lead to severe health conditions, but flu can lead to health complications, including bacterial infections that require hospitalization.
Cold and Flu Prevention Tips
Although colds and flu occur all year round, they are more common during the cold months. Fortunately, keeping colds and flu at bay is not as complicated as you think. Here are some easy but effective ways to prevent them.
1. Keep your hands clean
Handwashing or using hand sanitizer to disinfect your hands is a basic yet effective way of preventing illnesses. Your hand sanitizer should contain 60% alcohol, which is the right amount needed to kill bacteria and germs.
However, do not be over-enthusiastic with hand sanitizing, experts advise. Once or twice on a typical day is OK, as well as after touching public surfaces, before eating (if running water and soap is not available), and upon getting home.
2. Don’t use the hand dryer.
Ever used the hand dryer in a public restroom after washing your hands? Skip it the next time you use a public toilet. Hand dryers harbor bacteria and viruses that could end up on your supposedly clean and newly washed hands.
Instead of using the hand dryer, opt for paper towels to dry your hands instead. Also, consider using a paper towel to open the restroom door on the way out or turning off the faucet after use.
Be careful about touching surfaces using your hands. Use your knuckle or sleeve when touching elevator buttons. Do not shake hands or hug people if they look sick. Keep your fingers off your face, too, to protect yourself against the possible entry of germs into the eyes, nose, and mouth.
3. Load up on healthy foods.
Green, leafy vegetables contain vitamins that help support a healthy immune system. Eating cruciferous vegetables such as cabbages, kale, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli serves as natural remedies that lessen the risk of catching bad colds or flu.
A balanced and healthy diet is essential because it supplies the necessary nutrients to resist diseases and infections. You should also include foods rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to prevent the risk of catching colds and flu no matter the season.
4. Get adequate sleep.
According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, getting enough sleep is important, especially if you have had exposure to someone with a cold or flu virus.
The study revealed that those who slept at least 8 hours every night had more excellent resistance to the virus. It could be because of cytokines, a protein released by the body during sleep that helps fight infections and strengthen the immune system.
5. Exercise for better health.
Aside from a proper diet, it would be best if you also stayed active through regular exercise. You don’t necessarily have to go to a gym and enroll in a physical fitness program. Walking three times a week can be as effective in keeping you fit and cold or flu-proof.
Exercise also offers more health benefits. It also reduces stress, releases cortisol that fights inflammation and disease, and accelerates the circulation of white blood cells that helps fight common colds.
It is vital to boost your health by eating the right foods and adopting a healthy lifestyle so you won’t catch illnesses. The above mentioned tips can help lessen the risk of catching common colds and flu and prevent them from affecting your daily routines and quality of life.
If you haven’t updated your vaccines, consider getting a booster yearly. But before getting a flu vaccine, talk to your doctor to avoid potential side effects.