Your Seasonal Guide to Cold and Flu

Which seasons do you get seasonal cold and flu?

in Europe, winter is the flu season, mostly caused by the influenza virus which begins around October. Peaking from December to February. There are three different types of flu, imaginatively named influenza A, influenza B and influenza C. A and B are the most common, C is the most harmless and not thought to be responsible for any pandemics. In other words, if you’re going to get flu, the best one to get is influenza C.

So, what about the common cold? Is that seasonal too? They are to a certain extent, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the cause. The common cold is not caused by cold weather, despite its name. Cold and flu are both viral infections, different viruses, but it seems they both just love the cold. Even the name “influenza” seems to show the link: from the original Italian name, influenza di freddo, meaning “influence of cold”.

A surprising fact: the rhinovirus is the most common cause of the common cold. It can actually prevent you from getting the flu by jumpstarting your antiviral defence mechanism. If you want to avoid flu, then make sure you catch a cold! It’s also extremely rare, and very unlucky indeed, if you get cold and flu at the same time.

Some people really don’t take cold and flu that seriously, which is a mistake. It affects from 5-15% of the population in the northern hemisphere. No small number. In Europe, about 10% of all sickness-related absences from work are related to flu.

Scientists don’t know as much as they would like about human flus and colds because they don’t work the same way on animals. In other words, the only way to research the subject is to perform scientific experiments on humans. Which obviously is not an option. However, what is very clear, there has been an extreme drop in cold and flu cases since the onset of COVID-19. Wearing masks and social distancing rules have not only protected us from coronavirus, but also the cold and flu viruses. As is so often the case, prevention is better than cure. 

There are some theories why the flu strikes so surely in winter. For example, during the winter, people spend more time indoors with the windows closed. You are then more likely to breathe the same air as someone who has the flu. The shorter days mean less sunlight and less Vitamin D. This compromises your immune system, decreasing its ability to fight the virus. Flu is preventable with a vaccine, whereas the common cold is not.

The five best ways to beat a cold or flu

Though, the cold and flu are different, the ways to relieve the symptoms and get better are the same.

  1. It’s important to keep hydrated and drink lots of liquids. Cold or warm water, water with lemon and/or honey, fruit juices and thin clear soups all help. However, some drinks will have the opposite effect. For example, coffee and alcohol will in fact dehydrate your body.

     

  2. Something we don’t do enough: rest. A simple but effective way to regain your strength.

     

  3. A sore throat will be quickly soothed, with warm water and half a teaspoon of salt.

     

  4. Feeling stuffy? Purchase some saline nasal drops from your local pharmacist.

     

  5. A box of our Kleenex Balsam Tissues is always a good idea, containing a protective balm of Aloe Vera, Vitamin E and Calendula.

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