Although the world’s focus has moved from seasonal flu and colds to more current illnesses, it doesn’t mean that the common cold has stopped doing its rounds.
“Seasonal flu and colds are still illnesses that we need to protect ourselves from, and even though it is not newsworthy, prevention and protection are still important, as both can lead to more serious symptoms and illnesses,” explains Carla Yssel, senior brand manager for Septogard.
“Knowing the first signs of a cold and flu such as body chills, painful muscles and joints and congestion, and treating yourself appropriately can help lessen the symptoms you are experiencing,” she said.
Dr Morgan Mkhatshwa, head of operations at Bonitas Medical Fund said: “Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of influenza illness, hospitalisation and death. Not only will flu vaccinations reduce the risk of getting flu, but it is an important conservation measure for scarce health care resources which remains a concern with the ongoing the Covid-19 pandemic. The flu vaccine should be given sufficiently early to provide protection for the coming winter. A protective antibody response takes about two weeks to develop.”
Mkhasthwa said there are three types of seasonal influenza viruses – namely type A, B and C.
“In South Africa, seasonal flu is most commonly caused by type A or type B influenza viruses. Influenza is a viral respiratory illness that is most prevalent during autumn and winter months. It is a highly communicable disease which is associated with severe morbidity and mortality,” Mkhasthwa said.
Yssel suggested the following tips at the first sign of infection to help reduce the symptoms of colds and flu:
Stay home and rest. Rest is important as it gives your body time to recover and heal, while over-exerting yourself when you are sick will likely slow down your recovery. Staying home is important, as you won’t be able to infect anyone else around you.
When you are sick and coughing, it is important to cover your mouth and cough into your elbow. This stops the germs from infecting someone else. If you cough into a tissue, the tissue needs to be disposed of immediately.
Washing your hands is still very important, even when you are feeling well. The transfer of germs from one person to another can be from any surface that an infected person has touched, a doorknob, elevator button and even stationery.
Use a supplement to help boost your immune system at the first sign of infection.
While sick, your body can lose a lot of moisture; a fever can draw water and electrolytes from your body. Drinking water and other fluids can help you stay hydrated during this time, and help you cope with the infection.
“When you first start to suspect that you may be getting sick, you need to give yourself the correct care to manage the symptoms. Looking after yourself can also translate into looking after those around you,” said Yssel.
When you are ill your body needs the chance to fight the infection, and by giving it what it needs and taking care of yourself, you are lessening the symptoms.