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Cold & flu season

Cold & flu season

woman sneezing and coughing into tissue“Catching a cold” – what does it actually mean?

Actually, you do not “catch a cold”. The expression is misleading since just being cold is not enough to make someone sick. It takes a lot more to really catch a cold.

We commonly call “a cold” a contagious disease carrying various symptoms such as a sore throat, pain while swallowing, sneezing, a running nose, difficulties breathing, aching ears, headache, coughing, some fever and an overall feeling of being unwell.

Fight the flu in 5 simple steps

Influenza is a seasonal, contagious disease that can have also severe consequences, especially for children and the elderly. The flu needs to be taken seriously: prevention is the best way to avoid falling ill. The following are some simple steps that help you fight the flu and other seasonal diseases.

1. Get appropriate vaccine There is a vaccine that protects you against the common flu. This vaccine must be taken annually but as there are several flu viruses, it only protects against the three most common ones. Vaccination is therefore only the first step in efficiently protecting yourself against the flu.

2. Wash your hands A simple but unfortunately often overlooked rule; to avoid viruses from spreading, you should wash your hands thoroughly, especially after going to the bathroom. The most common entry points for viruses are the eyes, mouth and nose. Try to avoid touching your face with your hands especially after you have touched public objects such as door handles, keyboards or controls. You may also want to carry a hand sanitizer with you to further decrease the risk of infection.

3. Stay home if you are sick Viruses are most commonly transferred from one human being to another. Physical contact or conversation can lead to germs spreading. When you start feeling the first symptoms of flu, stay home to avoid passing germs to others.

4. Eliminate germs Viruses are the most resistant of germs and it is difficult to get rid of them once infection has occurred. The best way to avoid getting sick is to eliminate viruses before they even enter your body. Therefore it is important to regularly clean and disinfect your living environment to avoid germs from spreading.

5. Take care of your health Your body will need to fight back when bacteria and viruses attack. Strengthening your body is essential in winning this battle. Following a balanced diet with vitamins (especially vitamin C), getting enough sleep and regular exercise provide your body with the energy needed to fight germs.

Why do we call it “a cold”?

A common misbelief is that a cold temperature is directly responsible for the flu symptoms. The truth is however that the cold temperature is nothing but a catalyzer making it harder for your immune system to protect you from getting sick.

The actual infection results from bacteria and viruses found in your daily environment. Germs and viruses usually cannot enter your body thanks to the immune system. However, as soon as your defenses are low – when it is cold or when you are tired, for example – those common and potentially harmful germs and viruses can spread into your body and potentially cause infections and symptoms.

Over a hundred different viruses can result in a cold. It usually remains a mild condition; however, a cold is contagious from a day before the symptoms to three days after recovery. Even though a cold is usually benign, it can easily induce complications and become more serious causing inflammations, sinusitis, tonsillitis or pneumonia.

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