Cold

Woman with the flu

Prepping For Cold and Flu Season

During her highly anticipated Diamond Tour, Rihanna contracted laryngitis and a cold after a Buffalo, New York appearance and was forced to cancel her upcoming shows. And little wonder! How can a girl from the tropical Barbados possibly be prepared for the unforgiving climate of Buffalo, New York?

And, while most people would agree that colds are inconvenient, uncomfortable, and unnerving when Rihanna contracts laryngitis, it is nothing short of a national disaster; after all, what is Rhi-Rhi without her voice? Not to mention all these gorgeous outfits hanging unworn in the closet. How sad! If only Rhi-Rhi had been prepped for cold and flu season!

Now, maybe your cold or flu is not likely to garner the attention on social media, but it is still distressing and does not come without costs. Here are some things you can do to avoid getting sick this year.

Load Up the Medicine Cabinet
The next time you’re at the market make sure to add a few extra items to your list. You’ll want to stock up on decongestants, cough medicines, antihistamines, pain relief meds, and vitamins. You may not need them now, but better safe than sorry.

Make Sure you Have the Right Equipment
Besides medicine, it’s always a food idea to have a thermometer with fresh batteries, a humidifier, hand sanitizer, tissues, and anti bacterial soap. Remember, you won’t feel like going out and getting them when your sick.

Bring On the Chicken Soup
Make sure your kitchen is ready to handle your cold. Make sure you have lots of fluids, including water and herbal tea, and Vitamin C loaded fruit juices. Also, be prepared with heat and serve comfort foods that can soothe sore throats and keep away chills.

Get a Flu Shot
Flus are extremely contagious and, unlike colds, can spread a day before its symptoms how up. The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the common flu strains and is updated each year according to predictions about the coming season.

Wash Your Hands Properly
Begin with anti-bacterial soap and warm water. Spend about 20 seconds lathering up, concentration on jewelry and fingernails. To track the time, you can sing “Happy Birthday” twice, but, be warned, the woman next to you may turn around and say,”How did you know?” Rinse and dry hands and use a disposable towel when touching the faucet.

Keep Household Surfaces Clean
Yes, even your house is not a safe haven. Cold and flu viruses can thrive on surfaces outside the body form between a few seconds to a few days. Clean surfaces with products containing alcohol, sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, citric acid or bleach. There should be an EPA number on the label informing you whether or not the products meets the guidelines for disinfectants.

Have you done enough this season to fight off the cold and flu? What do you think? Did you get your flu shot this year? Let us know and tell us what you do to keep the germs away. Inquiring minds want to know.

Woman down with the flu

Avoiding Cooties: Cold, Flu and Retrovirus

The common cold, the flu and retroviruses make their rounds during winter time and it can seem impossible to stay healthy. Luckily, there are lifestyle changes and medical interventions that you can use to help protect yourself and your loved ones from coming down with the cold, flu and retrovirus. Use the following five tips to keep your family and yourself healthy during cold and flu season this year.

Wash Your Hands
The number one thing you can do to prevent the common cold, flu and retroviruses is to wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that “handwashing is like a do-it-yourself vaccine” when it comes to preventing illnesses. Properly washing your hands consists of five steps:

  • Wet your hands
  • Lather your hands – don’t forget the backs of your hands, in between fingers and under fingernails
  • Scrub your hands – do this for at least 20 seconds for maximum cleanliness
  • Rinse
  • Dry

Get Vaccinated
When it comes to the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that getting vaccinated is the first, and most important, step in preventing the flu. The CDC recommends that everyone aged six months and older be vaccinated annually to prevent the flu virus. “Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to the flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths,” according to the CDC. Your healthcare provider can help you determine which flu vaccine is the most appropriate for you.

Stay Home
To protect yourself from illness, you want to limit your time and prevent close contact with individuals who are already sick. If you begin to exhibit any flu-like symptoms, do those you surround yourself with a favor and stay home. You need to rest to recover, and staying home reduces the risk of spreading the illness to others. If you have a fever, experts recommend that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without using fever-reducing medicines.

Woman sleeping

Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is an important part of staying healthy and not getting enough sleep can make you more vulnerable to the common cold, flu and retroviruses. For otherwise healthy adults, the National Sleep Foundation recommends getting between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.

Practice Good Health Habits
In addition to making sure you are well-rested, there are things you can do in your daily life to help prevent the colds, retroviruses and the flu. First, a healthy diet and exercise can go a long way in keeping you healthy, so be sure that you are following a sensible eating plan and staying active. Next, avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes as much as possible, because germs from your hands enter the body this way. Cover your mouth and nose any time you cough or sneeze to protect those around you from your illness and clean and disinfect any surfaces that are frequently touched both at home and work to protect yourself from illness.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to avoid germs altogether, but practicing healthy habits can significantly reduce your risk of coming down with the common cold, flu or retrovirus. Remember to wash hands thoroughly and frequently and avoid putting your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth to prevent illness. Keep those around you healthy by using the above tips to avoid colds, the flu and retroviruses.

Woman down with the cold.

Why You Actually Get Sick in Cold Weather

Cold and flu season has officially arrived and it can be difficult to keep yourself from succumbing to one or the other, or both if you’re unlucky. It isn’t just a nasty cold or flu virus that can have you feeling less than great during the winter months, you may also experience a worsening of other health conditions such as arthritis or diabetes. Research from Cambridge University helps to bring some clarity when it comes to why you actually get sick in cold weather.

What Causes Cold Weather Illness
It’s a fact that illness rates go up during cold weather and there has been little indication as to what is actually causing this. A study conducted by John Todd, professor of Medical Genetics at Cambridge University, concludes that your genes are responsible for the increase in illness and discomfort you experience during the winter. Why does this happen? The theory is that your genes actually change their behavior in response to seasonal changes. This amazing bit of science was discovered by chance by one of Professor Todd’s Ph.D. students. The student noted that during winter, immunity genes were more active in white blood cells than they were at other times of the year. White blood cells are the cells in your body that are responsible for fighting off infection and illness.

Scientific Study Provides Support
Once the discovery had been made, Professor Todd launched a research study that included over 16,000 worldwide. The research team, lead by Todd, carefully analyzed blood and tissue samples from participants coming from a large variety of climates and environments. Your body contains around 24,000 genes and the research conducted by Todd and his team analyzed 22,000 human genes, making it a comprehensive study.

What they found was that nearly one-quarter of genes in the human body show signs of altered behavior during seasonal change. The weather in Britain changes significantly with the seasons, much like it does here. Todd found that during the winter months, immune system genes ramped up their activity during the winter months. However, samples from Iceland, where it is cold the majority of the time and there are few seasonal changes, showed that genes were more active prior to the rainy season in Iceland.

Why do Genes Change Behavior and Why Does More Immune Activity Make you Sick?
While the study indicated clearly that there are many genes that alter their behavior according to season changes, the reason why is still unclear. The researchers who conducted the study believe that genes receive natural clues from their environment, such as temperature or sunlight, and then respond accordingly.

If your immunity genes in white blood cells are more active during cold, winter months, then why do you still get sick? Shouldn’t more activity equal more protection? Not entirely. Professor Todd explains that the spike in activity can cause your cells to malfunction and attack your body instead of just foreign invaders. Your immunity genes control white blood cells, which triggers inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a major component of serious diseases such as heart disease, arthritis and type 1 diabetes.

What Does All of This Mean?
The research all boils down to one fact: if you know more about what’s wrong, you can treat the condition more effectively. Drugs that target inflammation may be more effective when used during the winter months to treat serious conditions like arthritis. Additionally, Professor Todd suggests that perhaps instead of getting vaccinated immediately when fall starts, it may be more beneficial to be vaccinated later in the winter when your body is already primed for immune action.

Staying healthy during winter weather can be a challenge and some places, like at work or school, you can’t fully control your exposure to bacteria and viruses. Understanding what happens to cause illness in cold weather is a promising step in discovering how to more effectively prevent and fight these illnesses as well. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and often and to stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading germs. Even though your genes alter their behavior, prevention of disease by hand washing and vaccination is still important because these practices can significantly lessen the severity of your illness.