We may have been spared from the dreaded cold and flu last winter, but health experts are predicting a worrying wave of cold and flu cases is on the way. This year’s explosion of flu cases in Australia has many health professionals in Europe bracing for what’s to come. Researchers1 predict an earlier and more severe cold and flu season in the northern hemisphere in 2022-23, so let’s heed this ominous warning and look at how you can protect yourself and your loved ones.
What are cold and flu?
Cold and flu are viral infections that strike the respiratory system. Common symptoms include a sore throat, runny nose, headaches, body and muscle aches, fatigue and fever. Most people overcome cold and flu within 5-7 days with rest, hydration and basic treatment at home.
How is the flu different from a cold?
The terms ‘cold’ and ‘flu’ are sometimes used interchangeably, and while both are contagious respiratory viruses, the type, length and severity of symptoms can differ. Colds tend to come on gradually2, whereas the flu can appear as a sudden fever or chills. It’s possible to have a fever with a cold, but it will likely last longer with the flu. Other symptoms more familiar with the flu than a cold include muscle pain, headaches, body aches, fatigue and a cough.
5 ways to protect yourself from cold and flu
With a jump of cold and flu cases predicted in Europe this year, compounded by less natural immunity due to lockdowns, here are five key ways to protect yourself and your loved ones.
- Get your flu vaccine
The first line of protection against the flu is vaccination. Flu vaccines are a safe and effective3 way to protect against severe illness. Experts recommend getting your flu vaccination in early autumn4 before the virus circulates in the community. In addition to those more vulnerable groups mentioned above, frontline healthcare workers and those caring for an older person or a person living with a disability are also strongly advised to get the flu vaccine. You can get a flu jab at your GP, pharmacy, midwifery appointment or the hospital.
- Keep your distance
Social distancing has become a commonly used term and an accepted part of everyday life. After vaccination, socially distancing from other people, especially those you know to be unwell, is one of the best ways to avoid catching cold and flu. In cases when you can’t socially distance, consider wearing a mask and ensuring you practice good hand hygiene to avoid spreading the virus.
- Practice good hand hygiene
Most people are now well-versed in hand hygiene, but it’s worth remembering how important this is to stop the spread of cold and flu viruses. Always cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands, and place your tissues straight in the bin.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds after coming into physical contact with other people and surfaces in places like supermarkets, public transport and your workplace. If you know someone is sick, disinfect door handles, worktops, tables, rails and any other surfaces that may transmit the virus.
- Use VIRALEZE™ nasal spray
Scientific research shows cold and flu are primarily spread by droplets in the air when people cough, sneeze or talk. According to the European Centree for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)5, you should maintain at least one metre distance from anyone with cold and flu symptoms and avoid crowded places. VIRALEZE™ is an antiviral nasal spray that traps and inactivates respiratory viruses, including cold and flu. VIRALEZE™ provides a protective moisture barrier in the nose where respiratory viruses first attach and start to multiply6. The nasal spray complements your first lines of protection like vaccination and social distancing. Help guard against cold and flu this winter with VIRALEZE™.
- Boost your immune system
Your body is a magnificent machine, and keeping it healthy and balanced is vital for your immune system, especially during cold and flu season.
Get enough sleep
Research has shown a strong link between sleep and immune function7, and there is evidence that getting sufficient sleep (7-8 hours per night) can strengthen the immune system. In contrast, sleep deprivation is shown to lead to illness. Try cultivating healthy sleep habits like staying off screens close to bedtime and going to bed earlier.
Eat an immune-boosting diet
Unsurprisingly, diet has also been shown to affect immune function8. Diets high in saturated fats, sugar, salt, and processed foods, are associated with impaired immune function9. In contrast, diets dense with whole foods like vegetables, fruit, nuts and seafood promote healthy immune function. Try to choose foods your immune system will thank you for.
Move your body
Lastly, exercise is also an important way to bolster your immune system. Not only does moving your body make you feel good, but research has shown that it stimulates cellular immunity10, which helps your body better prepare for future infections. Experts promote moderate exercise as the ideal intensity11 for optimum health and immune function. WHO’s global recommended activity level12 for healthy adults aged 18 to 65 years is to undertake 150–300 min of moderate-intensity, or 75–150 min of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or some equivalent combination of moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, per week.
The flu is coming – be prepared
After two years of restrictions, lockdowns and social distancing, it’s clear that cold and flu are back and making up for lost time. Experts predict this year’s cold and flu will hit earlier and harder than usual. Getting your flu vaccination is your first and most important step, followed by sensible measures like social distancing, wearing a mask, hand hygiene and taking good care of your body. VIRALEZE™ is another valuable tool in your and your family’s flu defence kit this winter.
6 Always read the label and follow the instructions for use. This medical device is a regulated health product which bears, under this regulation, the CE marking. Do not use if you have a history of sensitivity to any ingredient in the formulation. Not for use in children under the age of 12 years. See a doctor If you are pregnant or breastfeeding. For information on how to use, and for a list of warnings and precautions, click here.