Colds and flu (influenza) are very common infections of the upper respiratory tract that are caused by viruses. The infections are contagious, passed on by tiny droplets and hand contact. Anyone can catch a cold or flu. The peak season for colds is the colder winter months, not only because of the weather but because central heating dries out the normally moist nasal mucosa – an important defence against invading viruses. However, you can catch a cold at any time of the year; one particular type of cold virus thrives in the summer. Flu rarely occurs outside November to February in the UK except for the new strains of Swine Flu which have caused the recent pandemic.
There are hundreds of different types of virus that can cause a cold, which is why people often suffer with repeated infections.
Flu is caused by the influenza virus. There are three major types: A (often the cause of flu epidemics), B and C. The flu virus is constantly changing its structure, so new strains appear each year. We don’t have immunity to the new strains, which is why we can catch flu repeatedly.
A cold causes a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, mild fever and tiredness, lasting two to four days.
Flu is more severe with a high fever, chills, headache, intense muscle pains, exhaustion, loss of appetite, cough and sometimes a blocked nose and sore throat. It may last a week or more.
Immunity – As with all viruses there is no actual cure for colds or flu so prevention is by far the best way forward. Keeping your immune system healthy is vital for stopping cold and flu viruses from being able to make a home in your body. If you suffer recurrent colds or flu it may indicate that your immune system is not working at its best. Working with a nutritional therapist can be a great way to improve your diet and ensure that you are keeping all your nutrient levels topped for optimum immunity. In addition they’ll also be able to advise you on a range of specific immune boosting foods and supplements to aid in keeping the winter sniffles at bay. Book a Consultation.
Stress – When we are stressed, our bodies produce more of the ‘fight or flight’ chemicals, which prepare us for an emergency. This is fine in the short term as it helps us to deal with the problem in hand. However, these stress chemicals have a few downsides, one of which is suppressing the immune system. Therefore, if we stay in a stressed state for a prolonged period of time out immune system cannot work at its best. One way of finding out just how much stress our bodies are dealing with is to have an adrenal stress test. This can help to pinpoint any imbalances in stress hormones and identify stress before it becomes a problem. A Smart Nutrition could use the results from a stress test to write you a specific diet, supplement and lifestyle protocol to support you through times of high pressure. This will help to restore your inner balance and allow your immune system to do its job properly. Adrenal Stress Test.