Winter Tips: How To Deal With Seasonal Flu

Gunjan Lal
September 13, 2016
Views : 1136
Winter Tips: How To Deal With Seasonal Flu

The flu, also known as influenza is a contagious respiratory ailment typically caused by A or B viruses. Flu viruses are most often rampant when the weather changes and pretty common during the winter season. The viruses attack your body by spreading through your upper and(or) lower respiratory tract.

The difference between a common cold and flu

The flu and common cold are both viral infections of the respiratory tract and both are also contagious. Although the symptoms of both the diseases can be similar, the flu is by all means much worse. A common cold may drag you down a little bit, but the flu can make you quiver at the mere thought of getting out of bed.

A sore throat, congestion, and sneezing are common symptoms of colds. Both cold and flu bring along a headache, coughing, and chest discomfort. Although with the flu, you are likely to also experience a high fever for several days along with fatigue, body aches, and weakness. Symptoms of the flu also tend to show up abruptly. Most of the times the complications from colds are relatively minor - but a critical case of the flu can lead to a dire illness such as pneumonia.

What are the Normal Symptoms of Flu?

Different strains of the 'influenza virus' cause the flu. You catch it very easily - when you inhale the germ or accidently pick it up on your hands and then touch your nose, eyes or mouth. The symptoms of flu usually show up one to four days later.

The flu can be difficult to tell from a cold. But it mostly comes on faster and is more severe. What you know as the stomach flu is not the same as influenza. The flu rarely causes stomach trouble in adults.

There are some normal symptoms of flu, these are - headaches, high fever, extreme tiredness, cough, sore throat, stuffy or a runny nose and body aches.

Can Flu Cause Any Serious Complications?

Absolutely, if left untreated or not taken care of properly, the flu can lead to various serious (almost life threatening) diseases. These include Pneumonia (an infection of the lungs), Central nervous system diseases, Muscle inflammation (also known as myositis), Heart problems such as heart attacks and inflammation of the heart muscle, also known as myocarditis (also, inflammation of the sac around the heart).

It can also worsen certain chronic medical conditions such as diabetes , congestive heart failure, and asthma.

How Can You Prevent Flu?

If you do not make a sincere effort to prevent flu the odds dictate that you will catch the flu this season. I'm pretty sure you don't what that. Getting struck with the flu would mean a couple of weeks out of work (more like lagging behind work) or school, then life goes back to normal for most of us. But like I've mentioned before, the flu can be serious (even deadly), if you already suffer from a health condition like heart disease, diabetes, asthma, or a weakened immune system.

Therefore, the trick is to protect yourself from getting sick in the first place. Here are some ways through which you can prevent catching flu this season.

Build a Resistant Immune System

Build a Resistant Immune System

What exactly is the immune system? To put it simply, the immune system is a balanced network of organs and cells that work together to protect or defend you against disease. It stops threats like bacteria or viruses from getting into your body.

You can think of your immune system as a powerful defensive task force that sends immune-cell forces out to scavenge the unwanted intruders (viruses and bacteria) and get rid of them. Therefore, in order to prevent flu viruses from attacking, you need to have better resistance against them and the way to building resistance to such viruses is to have properly functioning, up and running immune system.

How Does the Immune System Work?

Your body creates proteins, better known as 'antibodies' which destroy abnormal or foreign cells. They help in warding off common ailments such as a cold or the flu and protect you against various major illnesses such as cancer or heart diseases.

Your body also has a backup response which is known as the 'cell-mediated immune system.' This does not involve antibodies but the immune system cells. They assist your body in creating memories of past defenses against certain common threats. Cool right?

When your body recognizes the same invader again, it recalls that memory and sets out to dismantle the threat before the disease starts to develop (I swear I'm not making this up). It is due to this reason that vaccines or immunizations work for illnesses such as the flu, chickenpox, measles, or hepatitis. The shot (injection) contains a little but harmless amount of the disease, so that your immune cells can react, learn, and remember how to defend you from it next time.

Can Changes in Your Lifestyle Help?

Change lifestyle to improve Immune System

Of course! Unhealthy habits can definitely slow your immune system's functions. That is why doctors always recommend you to make certain changes in your lifestyle.

Start off with lowering your stress levels - it's one of the most important changes you can make in your lifestyle. A continuous flow of stress hormones can make it hard for your body to keep you physically well. Daily exercise, relaxation techniques, stress management (or de-stressing) techniques can all be very beneficial.

Next, you should work on getting enough sleep. Your body requires at least seven to eight hours of shut-eye each night to boost your defenses.

How Can You Build a Germ Barrier?

It's very easy to catch the flu. When you sit or stand around a sick person and if they sneeze or a cough they send out a spray of virus straight to your mouth, hands or nose; quite dramatically!

You can also pick up flu virus from touching a contaminated surface, for instance, a restaurant table where a sick person might have dined before you or the railing of a staircase at your workplace or school. Flu germs linger on places like counters, desks, tables, doorknobs, and faucets for as long as eight hours!

When you touch a germ affected surface and put your hands directly on your eyes, mouth, or nose the virus travels straight into your body through your hands.

You can attempt to avoid being around sick people, but that isn't always easy to do, especially when you are in close quarters such as movie theaters, malls, and worship places.

If you cannot dodge the virus, the least you can do is maintain good hygiene to create an effective barrier against flu germs. Here's how you can do it.

  • Try to wash your hands with soap and warm water every time you touch a surface that might be contaminated with germs or shake hands with a sick person as they might be germ-covered.
  • Carry a hand sanitizer (preferably alcohol-based) with you for situations in which you can't get to a wash basin to wash your hands.
  • Carry disinfectant wipes or wet wipes to clean any surfaces which you feel could be contaminated with germs before you're about to touch them.
  • Try to be extra careful to not touch your eyes, mouth, or nose without washing or at least cleaning your hands first.
  • Being stingy with your plates, glasses, and anything else that comes in contact with your mouth during the flu season won't seem rude, so go ahead - be stingy. Make sure to wash used utensils and dishes in the sink with hot water and soap.

How Else Can You Take Care of Yourself?

Your food can improve Immune System

If you want your immune system to be in perfect shape to fight off and defend your body against the flu and other germs, it is immensely necessary for you to stay healthy. The first thing you can do is take care of what you eat - everyone knows that a balanced diet is the key to good health. So educate yourself about the foods you must and must not eat for a healthy immune system. Secondly, exercise! You must exercise at least four days a week (if not every day), your body needs to be healthy from inside as well as outside. Being fit is as important as eating healthy. Lastly - sleep; I cannot emphasize enough on how important sleep is for your immune system. You NEED at least seven to eight hours of sleep.

Keep in mind these pointers, following them will provide your body with the strength it needs to ward off an attack of influenza.

A Tip for All the Smokers

In addition to everything else tobacco does to your body, from boosting the risk of being susceptible to cancer to awarding you with premature wrinkles, smoking could make you more a more likely victim of the flu.

I'm not just baselessly writing away, there is evidence that shows people who smoke catch the flu more often than people who don't smoke. If you're a smoker then you need to take extra care for warding off the flu, because when people who smoke do get sick, they tend to have a more serious infection and a higher risk of getting affected with dire consequences or complications.

Which Foods Help Fight the Flu?

It doesn't matter if you're not sick; you still need proteins to keep your body strong so that if infections do attack your systems your body is able to defend you against it. Your body uses proteins to build energy, strength and sustain what you already have. Lean meats, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds all are good sources of proteins.

Adults should eat almost 50 grams of protein a day. Pregnant (and nursing) women need to consume more. Foods that are rich in proteins provide nutrients such as vitamins B6 and B12, both of which help in keeping your immune system working properly the way it should.

Vitamin B6 is present in protein rich foods such as turkey and beans, as well as spinach, potatoes, and enriched cereal grains. Milk, meats, and fish also contain vitamin B12 - it is a powerful immunity booster.

Minerals like zinc and selenium also help in keeping your immune system in stay strong enough to fight diseases. These minerals are present in protein-rich foods such as nuts, beans, meat, and poultry.

Gunjan Lal

Gunjan Lal

Hi! I’m Gunjan, a self-proclaimed tea fanatic and intrigued with alternative ways to lead a healthy life. I firmly believe that we should take care of our bodies because it’s the only place we live in.

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