Christmas is over, Dry January is gone and just as we start to look forward to longer days, lighter evenings and the odd glass of wine, it seems as though the cough, cold and flu season has arrived with a vengeance to stop us in our tracks.
There is no known medical cure for the common cold but there are plenty of ways to look after yourself and reduce the risk of catching the virus. And even if you do succumb, there are some tricks around to help reduce the severity and length of your suffering!
The best way to avoid flu is to take advantage of a flu vaccine. Contrary to some beliefs, this does not infect you with the virus and is a great help with staying healthy. It is even safe for pregnant women as it can protect newborn babies after birth and during the early months of life. Catching flu whilst pregnant can lead to a variety of complications and can be quite dangerous. Flu vaccines are available free to the elderly, children and ‘at risk’ patients, and are also easily available from supermarkets and pharmacists for around £10.
If you do catch a cold make sure you rest, drink plenty of fluids and take paracetomol and ibuprofen to reduce a fever. Although there is no scientific evidence to prove it, taking vitamins such as Vitamin C and Zinc can help shorten the lifespan of a cold but won’t prevent you catching it in the first place. To avoid spreading germs, always wash your hands whenever you sneeze or cough, try to catch it in a tissue that is thrown away immediately and don’t touch your eyes and nose as droplets can enter the body through here. Keep surfaces clean and disinfected and don’t share towels or toys.
A great way to make yourself feel better is to breathe in steam scented with 100% pure Eucalyptus essential oil. If you don’t have a steam room to relax in, a great alternative is to add a few drops of the oil to a bowl of hot water. Cover your head and the bowl with a towel and inhale deeply a few times. This can clear the sinuses helping you breathe more easily. Pine Needle essential oil is also good for helping find relief from infections, coughs and colds and can also help relieve aches, pains and fatigue.
Spending time in a salt room can help relieve the symptoms of cold and flu and also help prevent reoccurrence (if used frequently). The salt ions in the air open the airways in the nose, helping to clear the sinuses and killing bacteria. As the salt particles dissolve in the air and are breathed into the lungs, they attract positively charged impurities which can then be coughed up or leave the body during metabolic processes via the bloodstream, helping remove all toxins and germs.
Sauna bathing is another great way to help battle infections. The high temperatures in the sauna create fever like conditions in the body which in turn stimulates the white blood cells, giving a boost to your immune system. This fights off infection and helps kill infected cells before they multiply further. Sweating caused by high temperatures also opens the skin’s pores and helps reduce the levels of toxins and impurities in the body.
Add a few drops of healing essential oils to the water that is ladled on to the stones and breathe in the scented steam to help clear nasal passages. Or place fresh eucalyptus, peppermint or pine needles into a herb bowl, suspended over the heater. As the herbs heat up in the water, their aroma is released into the room. As before, breathe deeply and let the decongestion benefits work their magic.
However, the simplest way to stave off the dreaded lurgy is to live a healthy lifestyle. NHS UK recommend eating a healthy diet full of fruit and vegetables, taking plenty of exercise and drinking lots of fluids.
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