With Cold and Flu Season Just around the Corner, Experts Say Prevention is PossibleDec 3, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP
Flu and Common Cold are Respiratory Illnesses Caused by Different Viruses
The flu and common cold are respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses, but because they both have flu-like symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the diseases apart. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense; colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose and colds do not usually result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.
Since there are no known cures for the cold and flu, prevention is a priority. Researchers are recommending minimizing the spread of respiratory viruses without drugs. Experts suggest frequent hand washing, with or without antiseptics; ensuring health care workers wear gloves, gowns, and masks; and those with respiratory tract infections be isolated from the healthy community. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises receiving an annual flu vaccine as the best way to protect against flu; however, not all respiratory viruses have vaccines or medications, and some viruses may best be fought using more than one tactic according to research.
Do not cover sneezes and coughs with hands; use a tissue. Cold and flu viruses enter the body through the eyes, nose, or mouth. Children typically catch colds by touching their faces, passing colds on to others.
Water Flushes the System and Washes Out Toxins
Water flushes the system and washes out toxins. A typical, healthy adult needs eight eight-ounce glasses of fluids each day. If the color of your urine runs close to clear, you're getting enough. If it's deep yellow, drink more fluids. Researchers aren't clear about the exact role of saunas in prevention, but one study found people who steamed twice weekly got half as many colds as those who didn't. Perhaps sauna air is too hot for viruses to survive. Conversely, get a regular dose of fresh air, especially in cold weather when heating dries people out and makes the body vulnerable to viruses. During cold weather more people stay indoors, which means more germs are circulating in crowded, dry rooms.
Aerobic exercise speeds up the heart to pump larger quantities of blood, makes people breathe faster to help transfer oxygen from the lungs to the blood, and makes people sweat once their body heats up, increasing natural virus-killing cells. The natural chemicals in plants give vitamins in food a boost. Also, studies indicate eating a daily cup of low-fat yogurt can reduce susceptibility to colds by 25 percent. Likely, yogurt's beneficial bacteria stimulates production of immune system substances.
Heavy smokers get more severe and frequent colds. Being around smoke hinders the immune system, dries out nasal passages, and paralyzes cilia-the delicate hairs that line mucous membranes in the nose and lungs and sweep cold and flu viruses out of nasal passages. One cigarette paralyzes cilia for nearly an hour. Heavy alcohol use suppresses the immune system; drinkers are prone to initial and secondary infections and complications; and alcohol dehydrates the body.
Evidence supports that when relaxation skills are put into action, interleukins-leaders in the immune system response against cold and flu viruses-increase in the bloodstream.