The Best Tips for Cold & Flu Prevention
Sometimes you look around and it seems like everyone is getting sick. Ugg, please skip me! The best thing you can do to feel healthy is to stop a cold or flu from taking over your body in the first place. Check out the tips below to help you prevent them coming winter!
What Is the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu?
The Common Cold
The common cold is a viral infection of your throat and nose, also known as your upper respiratory tract. According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 100 different viruses can cause the common cold but the rhinovirus seems to be the most common culprit because it’s highly contagious.
Colds are most common to catch during the winter months because most of the viruses that cause colds thrive in low humidity. However, you can catch a cold any other time of the year too.
The common cold is usually quite mild and comes on gradually causing a runny nose, sore throat, cough, congestion, sneezing, mild body aches, and headaches, and tiredness.
Although they are typically harmless, it can take up to two weeks to start feeling better.
Similar to the common cold, the flu is a viral infection that targets the upper respiratory system. However, unlike the cold, the flu is mostly seasonal and peaks during the winter months. It is caused by the influenza A, B, and C viruses and strains of the influenza virus vary from year to year.
Symptoms can be both similar to those of the common cold but may also include:
- moderate to high fever
- shaking chills
- severe muscle or body aches
- severe fatigue that may last up to two weeks
- nausea and vomiting
The flu normally comes on quickly and can bring with it severe symptoms that usually last 1 to 2 weeks.
Why You Need To Know The Difference
Unlike the common cold, the flu can develop into a more serious condition, such as pneumonia, especially in young children, pregnant women, older adults, or people with other health conditions. Make sure to keep an eye on your symptoms and if they persevere or worsen always go see your doctor.
How Do You Get The Flu & Cold?
These viruses are highly contagious. You can catch a common cold and the flu through virus-filled droplets spread by someone who’s sick that either sneezed or coughed in the air around you, or recently touched a surface you come into contact with. When these droplets make their way into your system by you breathing them in or coming into contact with your nose, mouth, or eyes they can cause the infection.
Wash Those Hands!
You probably don’t notice how often you touch your face during the day, but it’s a LOT! Some studies even suggest 16 times per hour.
When cold and flu season comes around and you touch an infected surface or person (through a handshake for example), it can enter your system through the mucous membranes of your nose and mouth, leaving you susceptible to viral infections.
Keep your hands clean throughout the day with a healthy eco-friendly handwash or sanitizer.
Use a Humidifier
When you live or work in environments with low humidity, it dries out your nasal passages. This makes it harder for your body to trap and eliminate the bugs that lead to you getting a cold. Investing in a humidifier will help to keep mucous membranes ready to fight off germs when the air starts becoming dry.
Warm and moist environments are a breeding ground for microbes so make sure to keep your humidifier clean! I love using green cleaning tactics to prevent possible side-effects from harsh cleaning chemicals.
Clean Your Desk & House
Viruses can live on objects for up to two days. If you’re noticing people around you getting sick make sure to keep those environments clean as a whistle to prevent the spread!
I love using green cleaning tactics that are just as effective as traditional cleaning but much healthier for myself, my family and our planet.
Make Sure To Relax
I’m sure you’ve heard this before for all sorts of different reasons, but chronic stress is bad for everything including preventing getting sick.
Most people don’t realize that feeling exhausted or stressed causes your body to pump out the hormone cortisol which in excess can weaken your immune system’s ability to fight off germs and infection.
Make sure to make relaxing and self-care a priority. Do what feels right for you whether that be getting a massage or going for a walk.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleeping enough is crucial to preventing colds and other bugs. An interesting sleep study found that people who regularly get less than seven hours of shut-eye are three times more likely to get a cold than those who sleep eight hours or more each night. I love using the Dodow to help me fall asleep in combination with essential oils like Lavender.
The best way to stay healthy and fight off colds and flu is to keep your immune system strong. When you exercise, your white blood cells, the ones that fight infections, travel through your body faster and are better able to do their jobs.
Health experts say you should get at least 30 minutes of moderate cardio like walking, swimming, biking, or running in each day. If this isn’t an option for you, don’t let this demotivate you and just do the best you can.
Eat Lots of Fruits & Vegetables
Just like exercise, eating a healthy plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and fish is a really good way to boost your immune system and prevent the flu. We love Emma Ryan’s approach to healthy eating and if you’re looking to find healthy yet delicious recipes, check out her blog. Always make sure you have fun with it too! A few good kitchen tools make all the difference. Check out our soul shop for inspiration!
A large portion of our immune system can be found in our gastrointestinal tract. In it, you’ll find good bacteria crucial to staying healthy. That’s right, not all bacteria are bad! In fact, eating a diet rich in probiotic foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha might even give your immune system a boost and help ward off colds and infection.
Although more research needs to be done to confirm that probiotics can keep viruses at bay, studies suggest that probiotics seem to be beneficial when you have caught a bug too. A study showed that those taking probiotics experienced less intense symptoms (like stuffy noses or sore throats) for a shorter amount of time.
Want to learn more about supplements like probiotics? Check out Cleanse & Restore!
Get Vitamin D
Use Essential Oils
I personally love diffusing essential oils like lavender, citrus, and much more in a cold water diffuser to help my immune system a hand by:.
- I use a cold water diffuser to humidify smaller spaces.
- Lavender and citrus essential oils help me relax.
- Certain essential oils are anti-viral and anti-bacterial which helps keep those critters at bay when diffusing or incorporating in a hand sanitizer or home cleaner.
- A combination of lavender and copaiba essential oil helps me fall asleep at night.
The Last Thing You Need To Know About Preventing the Flu & Colds
Prevention really is the best medicine when it comes to the flu or the common cold. If you do end up getting sick, don’t worry, most people get at least one or two each year. Just keep an eye on it and if you wind up getting high fevers or symptoms persist always go see your doctor.
Will you try any of these tips? Do you have a tip for me?
I am always learning and would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below and if you liked this post, sharing is caring!
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Katelyn has a Masters degree in Nutrition & Health Sciences. She helps people find easy ways to live a healthy life. She loves everything related to nutrition, health, nature, travel, and personal development. She is also Carol’s right hand at Soul Essentials.