How to prevent colds and flu

May 2015

It’s change of season and winter seems to be creeping in much earlier than expected this year! It’s time to prepare yourself for the dreaded cold and flu. When it comes to this, prevention is definitely better than cure.


“A tickle in your throat, a fuzzy head or aches and pains are the first signs of getting a cold or flu and it is essential to act quickly when you feel any of these symptoms,” says Peter Jordan, Principal Officer of Fedhealth. Flu symptoms that aren’t treated can quickly develop into pneumonia or result in hospitalisation. One of the best ways to protect against flu and the complications is to get a flu vaccine. Check your health plan, most medical aids will cover one free flu vaccine per member per year,” says Jordan.


Jordan suggests drinking water as soon as you start experiencing symptoms. “Staying hydrated cuts down on symptoms like a sore throat and a stuffy nose,” he says, adding that is also a good idea to gargle with salt water. “Add half a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water and gargle. The salt draws out the excess water in your throat’s tissues, reducing the inflammation, clearing the mucous and irritants from the back of the throat.”


Another good suggestion is to use a saline nasal spray to keep your nose clean as this will reduce the impact of the symptoms.


“One or two tablespoons of raw honey also makes for a great alternative to cough medicine,” says Jordan. “And, if you can stay at home, rather skip work for a day. Your body can fight off the virus better if you are rested and your colleagues will thank you for not making them sick too.”


Fluids are very important when you have a cold so make sure you drink lots of water. Also try to eat plenty of protein-packed foods and antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables.


“Get more sleep, a hot shower before bed will help you to get a good night’s rest. You need more sleep when you are feeling under the weather, when you’re tired your body isn’t fighting as hard.


If you start feeling a fever coming on, start vomiting or have a bad headache, call your doctor. Otherwise keep up the routine for the next few days to make sure that you kick that cold for good,” says Jordan.


Tips to prevent the common cold:


  • Wash your hands often and use disposable items if someone in your family is infected.
  • Keep household surfaces clean and wipe them down with disinfectant.
  • Dispose of tissues properly.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle with adequate sleep, good nutrition and physical exercise.
  • Control stress. People experiencing emotional stress have weakened immune systems.
  • Keep warm. Shivering depresses the immune system and makes you more likely to catch colds.
  • Don’t smoke.


Tips to boost your Immune system:


  • Increase your intake of Antioxidants such as Vitamin C, A and E, beta and mixed carotenes and selenium.
  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables and drink a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice every day.
  • Drink lots of tea. Research shows that people who drink five to six cups of tea each day seemed to get a boost in that part of the immune system that acts as a first line of defence against infection.
  • Eat cereals rich in polyphenols to restore the immune system; eating soya will also boost the immune system.
  • Take Pre- and Probiotics to help the gastrointestinal tract and the uptake of important minerals.
  • Increase your daily intake of essential nutrients, Vitamin A, Iron and Zinc.
  • Laugh. It decreases the amount of stress hormones in your body boosting your mood and immune system.