Winter may evoke beautiful scenery of snow and Christmas time, but winter is also the time when cold and flu spread; the time for sweaters and coat; and probably hat, gloves and snow boots on certain days.
We spend more time indoors in the winter, meaning that we are in closer contact with other people who may be carrying germs. In planes, buses or trains, at work or in school, we are pressed against spluttering commuters, misting up the windows with their coughs and sneezes. It is easy to see how this could send us over a tipping point that allows nasty germs to spread through a population.
A cold can leave us with the strange feeling that we’ve swallowed a scratchy throat, a running nose and a mild headache; if we’re unlucky, our body is wracked with a high fever and aching limbs for up to a week or longer.
The flu season arrives so predictably when the mercury drops that it is an integral part of winter. In the short days of winter, without much sunlight, we run low on Vitamin D, which helps power the body’s immune system, making us more vulnerable to infection.
This winter season brought a virulent epidemic of flu. I heard that a hospital in California put tents in the front yard to accommodate the flow of patients rushing to the ER and organize an efficient triage.
I was sick too. After three days on home remedies, my cough escalated and I visited my doctor who put me on antibiotics, cough medicine and even steroids. Stay on bed rest and a lot of fluid.
How can you protect yourself and avoid becoming one of the flu victims? I have developed my own preventive system based on doctors’ recommendations, on reading various books and on my grandmothers’ wise advice.
- Get a flu shot I have been taking it for twenty years. It doesn’t guarantee that you won’t catch the flu but it helps avoid complication such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Avoid shaking hands and hugging too many ‘friends’ and young relatives. Children spread germs much faster than adults!
- Keep a scarf in your handbag to wrap around your throat if it’s suddenly cold. When I fly I surreptitiously cover my mouth to avoid breathing the germs that the plane fans generously distribute.
- Gargle with Cepacol morning, night and during the day. When I worked as a pharmaceutical analyst at Dow Chemical, the company placed bottles of Cepacol in the restrooms and insist that all employees gargle after washing their hands. I haven’t been sick during my years at Dow Chemicals.
- Swallow a Vit C 500mg daily. It boosts your immune system.
- Swallow a pill of Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc. Excellent to improve your immune system.
And now a few tips from my grandmothers —useful tips that really, really work:
- Suck on ginger candies such as Ginger Chew from Trader’s Joe. They may taste bitter the first time. Some of my friends spat them right away and yelled at me, but others got used to the taste and liked them.
- Snack on pumpkin seeds from Publix or Kroger supermarkets–very rich in zinc that boosts the immune system.
- Savor a tablespoon of honey with a few drops of lemon before you sleep.
Do you have any special suggestion to avoid catching a nasty cold? Please share with us?
While you rest and relax enjoy a few good books by New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors.