Autumn rears its head once again as the aspens glow gold and temperatures drop. This season signals pumpkin patches, corn mazes and holiday crazes for all that celebrate. However, autumn also signals the beginning of cold and flu season. Supporting your immune health in this transitional season will ensure that you get to celebrate and partake in all that autumn offers. Today we will discuss the signs and symptoms of colds and flus. Then, we will look at what steps you can take to support your immune system this fall.
What Are Common Colds & The Flu?
We often use cold and flu interchangeably, but what are they?
The Common Cold
It is a virus that affects the upper respiratory tract—your nose and throat. Though symptoms feel unpleasant, the common cold is often harmless. Therefore, average healthy adults often recover within one week and do not require medical attention. However, if symptoms do not improve or if you have concerns about your personal common cold experience, reach out to a healthcare provider. Common symptoms of colds include the following:
- Body Aches
- Mild Fever
- Runny Nose
- Sore Throat
- Stuffy Nose
It is an influenza virus that affects the upper respiratory tract—your nose and throat. Severity varies. Three to eleven percent of the population contracts a symptomatic form of the flu each year. Therefore, flu vaccines are released and administered each fall to reduce symptoms and prevent illness. The vaccine efficacy varies by year and region. Different vaccine forms support individual needs. So, speak with your healthcare provider about which vaccine, if any, best suits your personal wellness needs! Common symptoms of the flu include the following:
- Fatigue or Tiredness
- Muscle Aches
- Runny Nose
- Stuffy Nose
How To Support Your Immune System
Hopefully you better understand the common cold and flu now. Though symptoms above may not seem severe, you still want to avoid. Intentionally supporting your immune health is a great thing to consider.
Prevent Spreading Germs
Implementing preventative measures that reduce germ exposure supports immune health. Our overall immunity benefits from maintained health and wellness practices. Below are two easy ways to reduce the spread of germs:
1. Distance Yourself from Exposures
If you know someone currently has the flu, avoid close contact. Similarly, if you have the flu, avoid close contact with others.
2. Maintain Good Hygiene Practices
When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with your elbow. Always wash your hands after engaging with communal spaces. When in communal spaces—or other areas of potential exposure—avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Maintain General Wellness Practices
Our overall immunity benefits from maintained health and wellness practices.
1. Establish A Sleep Routine
We often underestimate the importance of adequate sleep. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Sleep needs differ by person, so if you have direct concerns, speak directly to your healthcare provider!
A lack of sleep may have negative effects on immune health.
Individuals that sleep too little, or do not receive quality sleep, may see negetive impacts on their immune health. Therefore, maintaining a healthy sleep routine will support your immune health!
2. Balanced Diet & Nutrition
You have likely heard this saying: food is fuel. Commonplace, but true! Food is—literally—fuel.
Our bodies function on the nutrients we consume. A balanced diet supports optimal body function. Understanding that our bodies run on the basis of what we consume allows us to understand how our diet may negatively affect our immune systems via nutrient and diet deficiencies. Focus on nutrient-dense whole foods, which often come in the form of fruits and vegetables.
Vitamins A, C, D, E, B6 and B12 may support different immune health properties. Minerals-—Zinc, Iron, Copper and Selenium—might as well. If you struggle to consume adequate nutrients through your diet, speak with your healthcare provider.
As always, do what is best for you. Cheers to a happy and healthy fall!