Some precautions to stave off a winter of misery
ALEXANDRIA: Half the office is absent. The other half is walking around with a red nose and a tissue in hand. It’s that time of the year again when the common cold and influenza attack a majority of the population. Although people know it’s coming, most of us still fall victim to the headaches and the stuffy nose, sometimes even a sore throat and temperature.
Some simple measures can help you to avoid the common cold and influenza. “There is a difference between a cold and influenza, says Dr. Ahmed Fateen, professor specializing in diseases of the ear, nose and throat.
The symptoms are runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache and fatigue. The best form of prevention is to strengthen the immune system, he advises.
Dr. Fateen says general hygiene, health status and eating habits are important in building immunity.
Although current medical thought disregards it as the cause of the common cold, some scientists believe that cold and fluctuating weather play a role in this most mysterious of maladies.
“Avoid drafts, says Dr. Fateen. You should not expose your body to sudden changes in temperature, he explains. For example if you play sports you should put on something heavy when you finish, but don’t avoid sports, as they strengthen the body and therefore build immunity.
He recommends sleeping in a room that is well ventilated but draft free. For example, you should either open the window slightly and close the door or vice versa, but don’t do both at the same time as it might result in a draft. It is important to sleep in a room where the air is refreshed constantly so as to avoid the build up of unwanted carbon dioxide.
Getting enough sleep is also an important preventive measure. If you’re run down from lack of sleep, a cold is just about 24 hours away, writes Patricia Carroll in her book What Nurses Know and Doctors Don’t Have Time to Tell You.
Also make sure that your diet is rich in vitamins C and A (mainly from citrus fruits and vegetables); both help in building immunity. “They work in the long run but once you catch a cold they will not do anything extra to cure it, says Dr. Fateen. Therefore make it a point to regularly incorporate vitamin C and A in your daily diet.
But don t think you are completely safe once you follow these precautions; influenza, or the flu, could be waiting around the corner for you. Symptoms of the flu are severe body aches, sore throat, exhaustion, fever, and a dry cough. “Influenza is a respiratory infection, there is no such thing as ‘stomach flu,’ states Carroll.
The flu is highly contagious, stresses Dr. Fateen. To avoid the flu, Dr. Fateen suggests avoiding people who have the flu.
In addition, put a winter-long hold on the habit of kissing others when you greet them. This can easily transfer the virus from one person to another, he says.
When you get the flu, after blowing your nose make sure to discard tissue paper in a way that limits other people s exposure to germs. Try making sure your bin has a lid and that if it has a swing-top, it still swings shut.
Do your best to make it a cold and flu free winter. All you have to do is build up your immunity system through exercise, good eating habits and general hygiene.