Sunday, 10 February 2013
How to Cope with Colds & Flu.
Colds and flu are caused by viruses. Colds can be transmitted easily between individuals. The main symptoms of colds are runny nose, sore throat, mild fever, mild headache, sneezing, coughing and congestion. Flu symptoms include many of the same as colds, but also high fever, severe aches and pains, chills and sweats, severe sore throat and fatigue. Fever, chills, fatigue and severe aches are the symptoms which most distinguish flu from other infections.
Whilst there is no known cure for the common cold or flu, there are certain preventative actions a person can take in order to lessen the chances of getting either, as well as actions to curtail the duration of an infection. Antibiotics are useless in the case of a viral infection, and there isn’t much evidence to support the view that over-the-counter medications help in any way.
Sufficiency in both vitamins C and D is vital in the fight against colds and flu. Any deficiency in these critical vitamins will leave your body more susceptible to being invaded by a virus. It is best to derive sufficiency in these vitamins from food, or other natural sources, in the first instance if at all possible. Garlic and ginger have also been known to be used effectively in the fight against colds and flu.
The best food sources of vitamin C are: fruits like gooseberries, kiwis, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons and grapefruit); vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green peppers and potatoes; and the herb parsley also contains large amounts, and can be sprinkled on meat or fish dishes to enhance them.
Failing to get enough vitamin C from food sources, then a food supplement should be taken as a precaution against a deficiency. Adults require about 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day, and children require half that amount. If you are getting some of this vitamin from food sources but not enough, then you should work out the strength and frequency of the supplement you need to take.
There are not many food sources of vitamin D, so it is easy to have a deficiency. The food sources available are: fish oil; some fish such as sardines, tuna, salmon and herring; and eggs and milk but in in small amounts. The main source of vitamin D is the action of direct sunlight on the skin; all that is needed is 15 minutes of sunlight a day on at least a third of the body.
In countries that have long winters without much sunshine, it may be prudent to supplement the diet with vitamin D supplements. An adult requires 2, 000 IU of vitamin D per day, and a child half that amount. Alternatively, you could acquire your daily requirement by using sunbeds in a safe manner in lieu of sunshine.
Whilst sufficiency in these vitamins should help you prevent catching a virus in the first place, if you do catch one despite your best efforts, here are some things you can do to curtail its duration, as follows:
1. Wrap up warm by putting on an extra layer of clothing if necessary.
2. Get sufficient sleep.
3. Avoid sugar-laden foods and soft drinks, as sugar depresses the immune system.
4. Drink lots of hot drinks like hot water with a slice of lemon, green tea, lemon tea, ginger tea or coconut milk.
5. Maintain the normal amount of food you take in a day, ensuring that you are getting enough vitamins C and D as outlined above.
6. Maintain any daily exercise like walking or jogging that you were doing prior to the infection.
7. After contact with a runny nose or eyes, wash your hands thoroughly to avoid spreading the virus.
The British Government advises certain at-risk groups to avail of an anti-flu jab each year prior to onset of cold weather. This may be a good idea, in countries where it is available, for the elderly, pregnant women, people with diabetes or any chronic organ infection. Anti-flu vaccinations are said to have a more than 80% success rate, but need to be renewed annually as the viruses causing flu keep changing.
If you have got a home-made remedy for the common cold or flu that worked well in the past, I would be pleased to hear about it via the comments box below.