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It’s Never Too Early To Plan For Cold & Flu Season

May 14th, 2020

Oh no! Cold and Flu season is just around the corner. Viruses can spread easily and even the strongest immune systems can succumb to infection. It can mean a nasty winter of reoccurring illness for those of us with lower immune function, resulting in with those dreaded flu symptoms rearing their ugly head.

A young woman recovering in a pink bed

This is why, with a little preparation, we can give ourselves a much better chance at dodging the dreaded lurgies.


First, let’s examine a few common questions associated with the common cold. 


Should I take Antibiotics for a Viral Infection?


Ask your doctor to determine whether you have a viral or bacterial infection. They are not the same thing. Antibiotics are designed to eliminate bacteria; so viruses are usually unaffected. In fact, taking antibiotics for flu symptoms could work against you by lowering their effectiveness on bacterial strains in the future.


Antibiotics can alter the balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria in the gut, so it’s worth discussing ways to protect your gut with your Pharmacist or Naturopath before filling your prescription. There have been cases of antibiotics completely wiping out good bacteria, giving rise to the need for the oh-so unpleasant fecal transplant. And yes. It’s as unpleasant as it sounds!


Personally, I would highly recommend complimenting any antibiotic prescription with a ‘strain-specific’ probiotic. Trust me, replenishing the good bacteria in the gut is so important when rebuilding your immune system for the future.


Does Cold and Flu Medication Cure Viral Infections?


Cold and Flu medications contain decongestants, cough suppressants and analgesics which provide relief from symptoms. However, they do not help us recover quicker, only mask the symptoms of the common cold or influenza.


However, certain vitamins and minerals can not only help to reduce symptoms - but will also give your immune system a much-needed boost, making it easier to fight off viruses faster and more effectively. 


Taking vitamins and minerals at the first sign of infection could mean fewer days spent feeling miserable, fewer days off work or school and more time to enjoy the things you love! 


Which Vitamins and Minerals May Help with a Cold?


Zinc: When taken within 24 hours of the first symptoms of infection, zinc reduces the severity and duration of colds. If you get sick often, taking zinc daily for five months may reduce the occurrence of infection and sickness-related absences from work.Vitamin C: What an important nutrient for the immune system! Vitamin C reduces symptom severity and duration of the common cold by an average of 23%, cutting the number of days spent feeling unwell by almost a quarter!


What Else Can I Do To Get Better Quickly?


Start supplementation as soon as you start to feel sick – the quicker you get on top of the infection, the better you will feel.


Get plenty of rest and sleep. Take as much time away from work or school as possible. (Sorry parents, I know this isn’t always possible for working families.)


Eat nourishing, whole foods including plenty of vegetables and easily digestible proteins, such as fish or eggs.


Consume plenty of fluids such as filtered water, herbal tea, and homemade chicken and vegetable broth. Include plenty of garlic and onion as they help to boost immune function.


Try steam inhalations with essential oils to reduce congestion. (This one is a family favourite!)


What to Do About Recurrent Illnesses


If this doesn’t quite cut it and you continue to suffer from recurrent illness, talk to your Pharmacist or Naturopath about boosting your immune system right now – why wait?  


Remember small things can be done immediately to help minimise cold and flu symptoms. For example; eat foods that are high in antioxidants, stay hydrated, increase exercise and reduce stress.


Most importantly don’t forget to get fresh air and plenty of sunshine. Vitamin D might just be the missing ingredient for winter protection.