Posts Tagged ‘cold comfort’

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With the cold and flu season well and truly here, it helps to have a few tools up your sleeve to help combat winter lurgies.

Do you dread the onset of winter because you seem to pick up the latest cold or flu year after year? Never fear, there are ways to help boost your immune system and alleviate the symptoms of winter viruses.

Spot the difference between a cold and the flu

Common cold

Contrary to its namesake, the common cold is not actually caused by a cold environment but rather a virus that results in an upper-respiratory infection. Winter does increase the prevalence of cold and flu though, as we tend to spend more time indoors and in close proximity to one another. There are over 200 different viruses that cause a cold, so it’s impossible to be immunised against it.

Some people mistake the symptoms of a cold with the flu, but while you can feel quite ill with a cold for a few days, most people make a full recovery without needing medical attention.

Symptoms of the common cold include:

1. Sore throat
2. Runny nose
3. Blocked sinuses
4. Earache
5. Cough
6. Headache
7. Fatigue
8. Fever, nausea and vomiting are less common symptoms

Feverish flu

Influenza, or the flu as it’s commonly known, can have far more serious health implications than a cold, especially in the elderly or those who suffer from respiratory illnesses like asthma.

Unlike a cold, flu symptoms usually last for at least a week and tend to require bed rest for a few days. While serious complications are rare, people with compromised immune systems may be susceptible to developing secondary medical conditions including pneumonia and inflammation of the brain and heart.

If you are at risk of contracting the flu, you may require an annual flu vaccination – see your doctor for more information.

Flu symptoms include:

1. High fever.
2. Aches and pains.
3. Earache
4. Runny nose.
5. Sore throat.
6. Cough.
7. Extreme fatigue.

Give your immune system a boost

If you tend to come down with cold and flu each winter, there are plenty of natural supplements you can take and lifestyle changes you can make to give your immune system a much-needed boost.

Antioxidants: Vitamins C, A and E are essential for healthy immune function.

Zinc: A mineral that’s essential for a healthy immune system.

Herbs: Andrographis, Echinacea, olive leaf, garlic, horseradish, licorice, sage, thyme and elderberry are herbs that may reduce the symptoms and severity of the common cold.

Diet and de-stress: Ditch the junk food and try to eat a diet rich in immune-boosting fresh fruit and vegetables. Take some time out daily to relax and unwind and make sure you get enough sleep.