Prevention Strategies for Colds and Flu
Colds and flu have no known cures. Prevention is the only option. To prevent influenza, the most effective, albeit “artificial” way is the flu shot. There are a few natural remedies that effectively minimize and reduce the effects of clods and flu out there. As of yet, there is no cold vaccine. But for colds and flu, there are other proactive strategies you can employ.
Wash Your Hands
Most cold and flu viruses are spread through direct contact. A cold and flu sufferer sneezes onto his hand, then touches the telephone, the keyboard, and/or a drinking glass where viruses can live for hours — in some cases weeks. The next person who touches the contaminated object picks up the germs. So wash your hands often. If there’s no sink available, rub your palms and fingertips together very hard for a minute or so. That can help break up most of the viruses. Or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Don’t Sneeze and Cough Into Your Hands
Viruses cling to bare hands used to muffle a cough or sneeze. This is how cold and flu germs get passed on. When you feel a sneeze or cough coming, use a tissue, then throw it away immediately. If you don’t have a tissue, turn your head away from people near you and cough into the air.
Avoid Touching Your Face
Cold and flu viruses enter the body through the eyes, nose, or mouth. Among children, touching the face is the most prevalent means to acquire these germs and, once afflicted, to pass on colds and flu to their parents.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
A typical, healthy adult needs eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Water rehydrates as it flushes poisons out of your system. How can you tell if you’re getting enough? If the color of your urine runs close to clear, you are. If it’s deep yellow, you need more water and other fluids.
Take a Sauna
One 1989 German study found that people who steamed twice a week got half as many colds as those who didn’t. Exactly how saunas prevent colds isn’t clear, but one theory suggests that the air temperature in a sauna is above 80 degrees, too hot for cold and flu viruses to survive.
Get Fresh Air
In cold weather, central heating dries out the body, making it more vulnerable to cold and flu viruses. More people stay indoors, which means more germs circulating in dry, crowded rooms. So, especially in the cold and flu season, get a regular dose of fresh air.
Do Aerobic Exercise Regularly
Aerobic exercise speeds up the heart to pump larger quantities of blood. So you breathe faster to help transfer oxygen from your lungs to your blood. You sweat once your body heats up. These bodily reactions help increase the body’s natural virus-killing cells.
Eat Foods Containing Phytochemicals
“Phyto” means plants, and the natural chemicals in plants boost the vitamins in food. So instead of popping that vitamin pill, eat plenty of dark green, red, and yellow vegetables and fruits instead.
Some studies have shown that eating a daily cup of low-fat yogurt can reduce your susceptibility to colds by 25 percent. Researchers think the beneficial bacteria in yogurt may stimulate production of immune system substances that fight disease.
Statistics show that heavy smokers get more frequent and more severe colds. Smoke dries out the nasal passages and paralyzes cilia, the delicate hairs that line the mucous membranes in your nose and lungs. Their wavy movements sweep cold and flu viruses out of the nasal passages. Experts contend that one cigarette can paralyze cilia for as long as 40 minutes and that even second hand smoke can compromise the immune system profoundly.
Cut Alcohol Consumption
Heavy alcohol intake suppresses the immune system so the body is more prone to initial infections as well as secondary complications. Alcohol actually takes more fluids than it puts in so the system also becomes dehydrated.
Teach yourself to relax and activate your immune system on demand. There’s evidence that relaxation increases the interleukins in the bloodstream. These are the immune system’s chemical defense forces against cold and flu viruses.
Train yourself to picture pleasant or calming images. Do this 30 minutes a day for several months. Keep in mind, learning to relax is learning to stay mentally active. It is not doing nothing. People who try to relax, but are in fact just bored, show no changes in blood chemicals.