Countdown to Cold and Flu Season - how can you prepare?
I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news but yeah, winter is here. There are lots of great things about winter, eating all the dirty carbs, hiding bad hair under a hat, and snuggling in a blanket. Then there’s the downside, it goes dark early, it’s always raining and then there’s the sniffles. Sniffles is a cuter word for ‘the common cold’. Every year we are shocked by how awful a cold makes us feel. A foggy head twinned with a nose that never stops running and a cough that sounds like a dying sealion – it’s pretty grim.
The common cold is a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract, often causing a cough, sore throat and general fatigue. The average adult has 2-3 colds per year, with each lasting 7-10 days. There is no simple cure for the cold virus however there are many remedies that address the symptoms and promote a speedy recovery.
If you’ve managed to avoid a cough, cold or sore throat up until now then well done you. Unfortunately, unless you avoid humans forever, you’re going to catch something at some point. So, what can you do to prepare for cold and flu season?
Get the flu jab – Winter 2020 had very low flu levels thanks to social distancing and mask-wearing. Unfortunately, that suggests a surge for 2021 as people will have less immunity if they weren’t exposed last year. At best flu leaves you exhausted and bedridden but in severe cases, flu can be deadly.
Stop the spread – Long gone are the days when you dragged yourself into the office with a fistful of tissues because it was ‘just a cold’. Nowadays we appreciate the importance of protecting others, so if you start to get cold symptoms then stay at home.
Boost your immune system – Prevention is always better than cure. You can’t avoid exposure to germs forever, but you can prepare your immune system to deal with them. Take a look at the HealthPharm range of Immune System Support products.
Prepare your cold and flu kit in advance – The chances are that you, or someone else in your family, will catch a cold at some point, so it makes sense to have everything you need to hand. Consider the different types of medicines that you might need for a cold:
- Sore Throat Remedies: A sore throat is the most common symptom of a cold. It’s caused by the cold virus irritating the pharynx (the throat opening) which inflames the throat lining. The inflammation, also known as pharyngitis, causes the throat to feel itchy, dry and generally sore. Be aware that there is a difference between throat lozenges and medicated remedies. The former helps to relieve the symptoms and make your throat feel less uncomfortable. Medicated remedies often contain some form of anti-inflammatory which can target the cause of the symptoms but must be used in moderation.
- Cough Medicine: A cough often develops when the cold virus travels past the nose and throat, into the lungs. This can cause what is known as a chest cold and is often accompanied by a wet cough and phlegm. Cough medicines work by reducing the cough reflex and loosening any secretions so that you can clear mucus from your lungs.
- Cold & Flu Medicines: Since there is no cure for the cold virus, this category of medicines is wide and aims to reduce how much you suffer from the symptoms. Many medicines include immunity-boosting aspects to help your body fight off the cold. There are also a variety of more specialised products for unblocking your nose, reducing headaches and numbing sore throats.
We recommend taking immunity-boosting supplements all year round. They not only help your body to fight off a cold but also a variety of other viruses. Ultimately if you do get struck down with a cold then the following are useful to have handy:
- Sore throat lozenges – whilst they usually don’t contain medicine, they do soothe a sore throat and can be used in combination with other remedies. If a sore throat is your only symptom, then you can always get a specialised throat spray.
- Cough Medicine – A general cough mixture is a great staple for any first aid cupboard. Especially one that contains an expectorant which will break up any mucus build-up and help clear congested lungs.
- Cold and Flu Medicine – An all-around medicine to help with all your symptoms is key to feeling better. The last thing you want to do if you feel ill is going to the shop to buy one.
IMPORTANT NOTE – Many sore throat, cough and cold and flu remedies contain the same ingredients. Make sure that you read the instructions carefully so that you don’t inadvertently take too much of one ingredient.
At Health Pharm, we work hard to make sure we have everything you need for every season, but we don’t just care about making you better, we want to help prevent you from getting ill too. Consider our immune-boosting range to look at promoting your overall wellness. If you’ve already got the dreaded sniffles, then head straight over the medicines section and we’ll sort you right out!
- Kim Wilson