It is that time of year again - children are back in school, the weather is changing, and most of us are spending more time indoors –all while becoming susceptible to coming down with a cold or flu! We are all familiar with that “run-down” feeling we experience when ill – not to mention those runny noses and sneezes that seem to get in the way of our ability to perform daily tasks. This article will look at common signs and symptoms of cold/flu and how we can take preventative measures to keep our life force strong and vital.
What are the typical signs and symptoms of cold or flu?
The average cold presents with the following symptoms: cough, sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, and sneezing. Did you know that people can transmit the infection before the appearance of symptoms? Many of these symptoms arise as a result of the body’s attempt to eliminate the pathogen or invader. A typical cold lasts approximately 7 days, but of course this ultimately depends on the status of your immune system!
Meanwhile, the flu typically presents with the following symptoms: cough, fatigue, body aches, chills, and fever. By raising our internal temperature, the infection is no longer able to grow and spread. We experience chills because our bodies are technically colder than the new set-point, and the body attempts to generate heat and warm itself by contracting and relaxing muscles, hence the shivering. Body aches are experienced when white blood cells produce cytokines while fighting off infections – these signaling molecules cause inflammation in the joints and muscles, resulting in pain.
How do you prevent yourself from becoming sick? There are many ways:
1. It is important to wash your hands regularly. This is the single most effective measure you can take. Consider this: we use our hands for everything and our hands are constantly exposed to the environment and all the microorganisms in it. Not to mention, some of us then proceed to touch our faces which maximizes the opportunity for invaders to enter the body and cause infection. Use a mild soap if you have sensitivities, and avoid antibacterial soaps as they can lead to the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
2. Sleep is also important – our bodies require adequate sleep in order to repair and heal tissues. Our bodies are also best able to fight off pathogens when we are asleep: the energy we tend to expend when we are active can be used to fight off pathogens and invaders. A general rule is to aim for 8 hours of sleep per night.
3. Cough and sneeze into your elbow sleeve. Many pathogens are spread via respiratory droplets and coughing or sneezing is a great way to contaminate those around you!
4. Spend time outdoors. That’s right, it is not cold weather itself that makes us sick! It is when we are crowding indoors that we become susceptible to catching infections from others. Not to mention, vitamin D also plays a role in maintaining our immune system. So get outdoors and soak up that sun!
5. Drink plenty of water – water helps to flush toxins out of our bodies and allows our organs to maintain elasticity and hydration to expel pathogens which enter the respiratory tract.
6. There are supplements and botanicals out there that can also help keep your immune system strong and vital, as well as help reduce the severity and duration of a cold or flu!
Do you think you might be coming down with something? Do you want to make the best of your cold and kick it to the curb? Book your appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor today, call:
or 613-366-1644. Let’s get your immune system back on track!
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Ashley Kowalski is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in Embrun, Cornwall, and Ottawa. She is currently accepting new patients.