The winter months are notorious for spreading illnesses like cold and flu. Most people’s immune systems are quite effective most of the time, but our lifestyles practices and our not so perfect health can decrease the body’s ability to fight off illness.
Cold vs. Flu Symptoms: Spotting the Differences
Fever, runny nose, fatigue, headache, and muscle aches are symptoms shared by both cold and flu. Although cold and flu share some of the same symptoms, certain indicators are common with each individual condition.
It may be helpful to remember that a runny, stuffy nose is a common indicator of a cold, along with scratchy throat, sneezing, watery eyes, and a mild fever (below 102 degrees Fahrenheit). Cold symptoms tend to develop gradually.
Symptoms that indicate flu tend to be more severe than with a cold and include fever (above 102 degrees Fahrenheit), nausea, cough without phlegm, chills, body aches, sweating, and lack of appetite. Flu symptoms can come on suddenly, without warning.
Did you know probiotics can help ward off the common cold? In a recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, August 2010, showed that probiotics (Lactobacillus) reduced the incidence of the common cold and shortened the days the person was symptomatic. This makes perfect sense as the 80% of the immune system is located in the gastrointestinal tract.
The keys to a healthy immune system:
- Sleep helps the body to rest and fight infections
- Limit alcohol as it can affect the linings of your mouth, making it easier for viruses and bacteria to invade.
- Exercise boosts your immune system creating antibodies and white blood cells.
- Stress whether from work, personal commitments, or other sources, can weaken the body’s immune response and make you more likely to come down with viral infections.
- Depression can make you more likely to succumb to cold and flu as well. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women with depression are more likely to have imbalances in certain immune-system substances.
- Food choices
Eating foods with too much sugar (which is so tempting during the holidays) or not enough fruits and vegetables, can impair your immune function. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Add colorful fruits and vegetables, adequate vitamins and minerals, and supplements to enhance your immune system. Have your Vitamin D level checked and supplement the vitamin as necessary. Vitamin C also helps the immune system.
There are excellent supplement/herbal products that when taken early in the viral course can minimize the symptoms and boost your immune system. This is an essential defense. Nutrient IV therapies can enhance your immune system.
Above all, wash, wash, wash your hands.
Be prepared. Live a healthy lifestyle and have extra supplements at home to start when the first signs appear.
Remember laughter is the best medicine.