Avoiding Seasonal Illness
Fall brings about cooler weather, holidays and fun family gatherings. The cool, crisp smell of this season imparts an almost heady anticipation of crackling fires and hot cocoa as well as looking forward to the colorful transformations of foliage and trees.
Unfortunately, riding on the coat tails of seasonal changes are some pretty nasty germs that can cause mild to severe colds and flu in people of all ages. Children and seniors are especially at risk, along with those who have weak immune systems. No one can pinpoint exactly why there is a rise in the these infections during the fall and winter except to surmise that people are more apt to stay indoors during cold weather, putting themselves in closer proximity to those who may be sick and spreading germs.
Anyone who has suffered the misery of a seasonal cold or survived a debilitating bout of the flu can assure you they would prefer never to experience either again. But because these germs run rampant during the fall, chances are we all have the potential to become infected from time-to-time.
The flu vaccination is highly recommended for seniors to prevent contracting that virus. However, even after vaccination some people may get the flu, though symptoms are not as severe as they can be without the vaccine. While there is no vaccination for the common cold, there are ways to decrease your chances of catching colds as well as the flu by educating yourself on prevention methods and practicing due diligence when putting your knowledge to work.
The most important factor in preventing and battling bacteria and viruses is to remember to wash your hands frequently throughout the day. The Centers for Disease Control advise washing hands for approximately 20 seconds longer than you normally do, with warm, soapy water. Doing so is the best way to prevent catching and spreading germs. If you must cough or sneeze, do so within the crook of your elbow to keep germs from going airborne. Limit your time in enclosed spaces with people who exhibit signs of illness or if you are not feeling up to par
It is also important to maintain a healthy immune system. A diet containing whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables is key. Physicians may recommend vitamin supplements for those who do not receive enough nutrients from foods to keep their immune systems healthy and for people with vitamin deficiencies. Foods that help boost your immune system contain high levels of vitamin C, which produces antibodies that fight infection. Include choices such as red, yellow, and green peppers, pineapples, oranges and kiwis in your daily diet.
Sleep is critical to maintain vital immune systems. Experts recommend 7-8 hours of sleep per night for optimum results. Also, indulge in daily naps to give your body the quality time it needs to rejuvenate.
Fluid consumption keeps the mucous membranes in your nose and lungs hydrated, which deters germs from becoming active in those places. Vitamin A can help maintain moisture of the mucous membranes in your nose and mouth, as they are often the first line of defense against infection.
Intense stress often negatively impacts otherwise healthy immune systems. While some stress cannot be avoided, you can minimize its effects. The American Medical Association recommends exercising 30 minutes a day to maintain healthy immune systems and also to keep stress at bay. Socializing and performing a favored activity, such as gardening, promotes brighter outlooks on life and emotional health.
Last but not least, remember to wash your hands frequently throughout the day. The Centers for Disease Control advise washing hands for approximately 20 seconds longer than you normally do, with warm, soapy water. Doing so is the best way to prevent catching and spreading germs. If you must cough or sneeze, do so within the crook of your elbow to keep germs from going airborne. Limit your time in enclosed spaces with people who exhibit signs of illness or if you are not feeling up to par.
It is not necessary to quarantine yourself indoors to prevent catching a cold or the flu. Putting these methods into practice in your daily life can help you maintain overall good health and hopefully limit your susceptibility to seasonal illnesses.
Baertlein, Lisa. Everydayhealth.com (2011). Easy strategies for boosting immunity. Retrieved on October 8, 2012 from everydayhealth.com/colds/boost-immunity.aspx.
FDA.gov (2011). Get set for winter illness season. Retrieved on October 8, 2012 from fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm092805.htm.
Suite101.com. Affordable ways for seniors to prevent illness. Retrieved on October 8, 2012 from suite101.com/article/affordable-ways-for-seniors-to-prevent-illness-a166451.
CDC.gov. Preventing the flu: good health habits can stop germs. Retrieved on October 8, 2012 from cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm
Niall, Hugh D. ScientificAmerican.com (1997). Flu virus. Retrieved on October 8, 2012 from scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-do-we-get-the-flu-mos&print=true.