Runny nose, headache, fever, broken condition… If you believe the statistics, 95% of all infectious diseases are the so-called colds, or rather, SARS and flu. But is the disease really the inevitable companion of the autumn-winter season, or does effective prevention of flu and colds really exist?
Prevention of flu in the cold season
Of course, nobody wants to be sick. And the complications of flu are unpleasant: otitis, bronchitis, pneumonia… Few people remember about prevention, and they usually start with traditional measures like garlic and onions. Meanwhile, viruses are not vampires, and they are not afraid of garlic. Phytoncides contained in the essential oils of these plants kill only bacteria, fungi, and some simple microorganisms. The prevention of colds and flu should be approached comprehensively. The correct set of preventive measures starts with the correction of lifestyle and nutrition, and only then you can add the use of folk remedies or medicines.
Home remedies for cold and flu prevention
Before putting on a mask and taking medicine, you need to review some habits. You should not look for entertainment in crowded places during the epidemic: cinemas, shopping centers. You’d better postpone such fun until the summer, replacing them with walks in the fresh air, winter sports. Clothing should be “according to the weather”: you should not sweat as sweating causes the body to cool.
- Proper nutrition. Antibodies and enzymes that destroy bacteria and viruses are proteins. And if they are not sufficiently ingested, the immune system cannot work fully. Therefore, every day you should eat meat (preferably lean meat like poultry or beef) fish, cottage cheese and dairy products. In addition, animal products are a source of vitamins A, D, B12, and others that are necessary for a normal life. Of course, we are talking about complete proteins, and not sausages and other semi-finished products;
- Ventilation. Systematic ventilation reduces the concentration of viruses and bacteria in the air by 80–90%. It is necessary to ventilate the room correctly: open the vents for 20-30 minutes and repeat this 2-3 times a day, and do not keep a small gap in the window constantly. Of course, all household members should be dressed at this time. Do not be afraid of drafts: the flow of cold air alone does not cause a cold. Viruses are dangerous and they should be removed by airing;
- Humidification. The colder it is outside, the less moisture in the surrounding air. Heating batteries can only warm but not moisten it. Due to excessive dryness, the mucous membranes of the nose and pharynx often dry out, and crusts appear. This not only causes discomfort but also disrupts the functions of local immunity: lysozyme, interferons, immunoglobulins are able to work normally only in a humid environment – in mucus produced by the mucous membranes. Therefore, air must be humidified additionally. If for some reason you do not want to buy a humidifier, you can hang wet towels on the batteries and change them as they dry. Apartments with the aquarium have no problems with dry air. You can also moisturize the mucous membrane by washing the nose with saline. In addition, washing the nose after staying in public transport or another place of crowding, you can wash off the mucosa and viruses. Just do not try to make the solution “stronger” – just 9 g (a teaspoon with a hill) of salt per liter of water is enough. The salinity of such a product is equal to the salinity of the blood, and therefore the solution does not violate the protective functions of the mucosa;
- Hardening improves thermoregulation, which means it protects against hypothermia. Do not hurry to pour a bucket of ice water on yourself. You need to start gradually. You can use air baths in a well-ventilated area (duration – no more than 3 minutes). You can also try rubbing with a damp towel until you feel warm and reddened. Another way to harden your body is to douse feet. Start with water at room temperature, you can lower the temperature by 2-3 degrees once every 10 days. And be sure to rub well after the procedure. In any case, hardening is a long process, requiring patience and constancy.
As for the mask, it is needed by the sick to delay at least part of the viruses spread during sneezing and coughing. But the mask cannot protect healthy ones from them – the cells in the material are too large. In addition, the virus often spreads not through the air but with dirty hands: the patient sneezes in his or her palm, grabs a grab rail in a transport or a basket in a grocery store. Viruses on such objects last up to 6 days. Therefore, you should not rub your nose, eyes, in general, touch your face, and when you return home, you must wash your hands.
What drugs can you use to prevent the flu?
- Vaccination. Each year, ahead of the cold season, WHO issues a forecast newsletter which is used by vaccine manufacturers. Vaccination is strongly recommended for people who can get dangerous flu complications, such as pneumonia and respiratory failure. These are children from 3 to 5 years old and adults over 65; those suffering from chronic cardiovascular disease; patients with diabetes (which reduces the ability to resist any infection); people with obesity (limiting lung mobility and increasing the likelihood of congestion). Vaccination is not always able to protect against infection but it prevents the severe course of the disease and death. This is true only for the flu. Vaccines against other acute respiratory viral infections have not yet been invented;
- Nasal rinsing. You can make a saline solution or you can buy a ready-made mixture in a pharmacy. Experts of BM Pharmacy did not find a difference in the effectiveness of ordinary saline and diluted seawater offered by various manufacturers, so this is a matter of personal preference;
- Vitamin and mineral complexes. They do not treat and protect against infection but help to maintain normal immunity;
- Interferon Inductors. Interferon is a special protein that creates antiviral immunity. Interferon inducers are drugs that enhance the body’s production of this protein. Recent clinical recommendations for the treatment of influenza and other acute respiratory viral infections in children indicate the ineffectiveness of such drugs, including for prevention. It is also useless to instill interferons into the nose; moreover, such a “prophylaxis” can provoke nosebleeds;
- Antiviral agents. WHO recommends oseltamivir and zanamivir for the prevention of influenza, stipulating that these drugs act specifically on the influenza virus. They prevent not only the flu but also other respiratory viral infections.
Despite the fact that doctors consider normal for children to have up to three episodes of the common cold per year, nobody wants to be ill. To effectively prevent colds and flu, you need a set of measures aimed primarily at changing lifestyle to maintain normal immunity. Vaccinations, antiviral agents and vitamins will help to resist infection.