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30 Oct 2015
Flu season is upon us…
Autumn is here and it is a lovely time of the year, but of course it is not without its stresses.
The run up to Christmas can become stressful:
Finishing work deadlines so you can have time off, food shopping in crowded supermarkets, trying to perfect the perfect recipe, present buying for someone who has everything…the list goes on.
But one of the biggest problems at this time of year is becoming ill in amongst everything else. Flu season starts in October and runs until April and it is highly contagious. Believe it or not around 1 million GP consultations every year are to do with flu and the illness creates 30,000 hospital admissions annually. So if you want to avoid your whole family going down with it one by one there are things you can do now to strengthen your immune system.
Firstly if you are eligible for a flu jab – consider having it. Anyone over 65, anyone with lung disease or asthma, heart trouble, diabetes, stroke victims, those with liver or kidney conditions, if you are pregnant, take medications that weaken your immune system, live in a care home or are a personal carer – would be entitled.
- Get eight hours of sleep a night, less than seven hours a night makes you three times more likely to develop a cold.
- Wash your hands regularly with hot water and soap – viruses get on your hands and then pass from person to person by using door handles, shaking hands and most commonly by touching your face and nose.
- Healthy diet – get your five a day of fruit and veg and include garlic as it has antiviral and antibacterial properties and helps us to resist infections.
- Supplements – if you are thinking about taking a supplement then zinc may be a good option. Taking a zinc tablet within 24 hours of a cold starting may cut the effects by several days. Equally Echinacea Purpurea can help with prevention – take for 8-12 weeks.
If after all of the above you or your loved ones do succumb to a cold then try the following things:
- Have a hot bath – this can inhibit the virus from multiplying.
- Some people get a benefit from Vitamin C; you could try a water soluble tablet that will help to keep your fluids up. The body will rid itself of any excess.
- Try essential oils to soothe – Olbas Oil can be used on tissues and dropped into a bath. Menthol and eucalyptus help you to breathe more easily.
- There is some debate as to whether cough syrups do much good, but essentially they are there to lubricate the throat. You can do this in a natural way by eating spicy foods, eating soup and taking in drinks with bitter flavours.
- Rest – there is no hard and fast rule as to how long you will need to refrain from normal activities, let your body be the guide.
Last of all remember that antibiotics kill bacteria and not viruses and so will do nothing for a cold. However if you develop a secondary infection – such as a chest infection then they may be needed. If in doubt contact your Doctor. Equally you should seek advice from your Doctor before using any herbal remedies, especially if you are on other medications.