Why does the flu strike commonly in winter? Is there a season for Flu? The answer lies in understanding the diseases itself. Flu or influenza hits us as a respiratory illness caused by a virus that invades the cells in our body and leads to sickness.
Flu is often confused with a common cold due to similar symptoms, including sore throat, cough, and/or sneezing. Signs of the Flu may also include high fever and body aches along with long-drawn-out exhaustion, headaches, and gastrointestinal conditions such as diarrhea and vomiting, among others.
Why is the Flu so bad?
Flu can be contagious. Influenza can spread via the sneezing and coughing of a person infected. It impacts the elderly or children the most, along with those with a weaker immune system.
200,000 people in the USA are hospitalized every year due to the Flu. And approximately 36,000 people die of the same annually.
What is the Flu Season?
In the United States, flu season may start anytime between October and December. The season reaches peak levels in February, before ending in March.
Winter is traditionally accompanied by Flu. Influenza actually means influenza di freddo or influence of the cold; according to scientists, it doesn’t have anything with the cold season. Surprised?
Why does the Flu spread faster during winter?
In Winter, there is a lack of sunlight and lower temperatures which can contribute to the spread of the Flu.
- In winter, people spend most of their time indoors with windows shut and doors closed. Lack of fresh air and being in enclosed spaces helps the virus spread faster.
- There is less Sunlight in the winter. This leads to lower levels of melatonin and Vitamin D and may reduce your ability to fight the virus.
- Studies have found that influenza survives longer at lower temperatures and humidity levels.
- The virus thrives in drier and colder weather. So, the virus can infect more during winter.
What can be done to prevent the Flu?
There are many preventive measures that you can take to reduce your risk of coming down with Flu. Some of these are listed in the following pointers –
- Wash your hands. Washing your hands often is a must during the flu season. Specifically, wash or sanitize your hand after shaking it with someone infected. The disease can spread through sneezes and coughs and also through touching the surfaces infected. If you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes, the virus may enter your body as a result. Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds in warm water with soap.
- Keep Sick Family Members and Friends at a Distance. It might be challenging but stay away from friends and family members suffering from Flu. If you have the Flu, stay away from others until you have recovered. This will help lower the chances of spreading the virus. You should also try avoiding going into crowds or to work or school.
- Disinfect Surfaces. Make sure that switches, surfaces, doorknobs, and telephones are clean and disinfected in your home. Wipe all surfaces regularly with a sanitizer. Have separate towels and napkins for those who have Flu. Always throw away tissues immediately after using them.
- Eat a Healthy Diet. You should consume a healthy and balanced diet to strengthen your immune system and keep the Flu away. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits, along with kefir, salmon, tuna, walnuts, and flaxseed. These foods are a rich source of healthy fatty acids. Consider almonds, Brussels sprouts, and Broccoli as well. Yogurt is also great for reducing your chances of catching a cold or virus infection.
- Get Adequate Rest. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep each day. Get proper rest and sleep to fortify your immune system against the Flu.
- Give up Smoking. People who smoke are more prone to respiratory ailments. This leads to frequent cold, cough, and sneezing, and may drag you into the trap of Flu. So, give up smoking, and you will feel the difference.
- Exercise. Exercise is an excellent remedy for killing viruses in the body. It also helps you lead a happier, healthier, and better life. Work out and sweat hard regularly to stay fit, healthy and free from the Flu.
What is the very best thing I can do to prevent Winter Flu?
Getting your flu shot on time is always the best practice for keeping the disease at bay. Get yourself vaccinated and immunized before the flu season begins. Getting flu shots helps you stay away from many related conditions as well, apart from allowing you to lead a super active winter.
For more information on Flu – check out our article “Seasonal Flu: What you need to know”