We are well into cold and flu season now and many of you have probably experienced at least a minor cold already. Adults can expect to get up to four colds per year with symptoms lasting a week or two. If this does not improve, many of us get flu which can linger for a lot longer. There is no cure for cold or flu and it’s better to avoid the doctor’s waiting room to avoid spreading the illness even further. However, there are some things you can do to help you to have the best chance of avoiding it.
1. Exercise Regularly
Winter is the time of year when many of us let our exercise regime slip. It’s much easier to stay at home on the sofa watching TV than to brave the outdoors. Studies have shown that staying active can almost half your risk of catching a cold. This is because exercising sparks a temporary rise in your immune system to make it easier to fight off viruses. Even if you do get a cold, those who are active tend to have less severe symptoms and recover faster. If you need some advice, read our previous article on winter exercise ideas.
2. Wash Your Hands
Remember to keep on top of your hand hygiene, especially at this time of year. Cold and flu spread rapidly and it’s easy to pick up some germs from anything such as phones, door knobs and anything that someone with a cold may have had sneezed on our coughed on. It is recommended that we wash our hands at least six times a day, after using the bathroom, petting animals and before eating. If you are out and about, make sure you wash your hands more regularly as there will be many chances for you to come in contact with a bug.
3. Get the Flu Jab
While it is advisable to get the flu jab in October before flu season starts, it’s still worth getting it now as there is plenty of time left. It isn’t 100% going to stop you from getting a cold or flu, but it reduces the risk and can potentially reduce the effects of symptoms. The best thing about the jab is it’s free for people over 65, so there’s no excuse not to get it. Make sure you get it every year, as cold and flu viruses are constantly changing.
It’s essential for you to get enough sleep for your general health and wellbeing. Your immune system works at its best when you have enough rest. It has been proven that people that get less than 7 hours of sleep per night are more likely to get ill. Make sure you get to bed on time and rest more if you are feeling unwell.
5. Stay Hydrated
Research has shown that keeping your fluids up can help to reduce the chances of getting ill, particularly for colds and flu. This is mainly because drinking water helps to prevent dehydration and loosens congestion. Aim to drink 6-8 cups of water a day. Try to avoid highly caffeinated drinks such as coffee and keep alcohol to a minimum.
6. Eat Well
It’s essential to eat well during these months. You may not have a big appetite, but you need to keep up your daily intake of fruit, vegetables and whole grains. These key dietary items are needed to give you the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to fight off viruses and infections. A healthy, balanced diet is the best way to beat cold and flu season. If you need help, read our previous article on immune boosting foods.
7. First Defence
Although there is no known cure for a cold, many of the UK’s trusted experts have recommended Vicks First Defence spray. You use this when you first notice symptoms of cold and flu and this spray can help to nip your cold in the bud. It’s a nasal spray which you can buy over the counter at a pharmacy, without having to make any trip to your GP. Try investing in some now and if you feel unwell, it’s there for you to use straight away.
It may seem impossible to avoid colds at this time of year, but there are many simple things you can do to improve your chances. Try these simple tips and you may well be one of the lucky ones to defeat cold and flu season.