In Canada, an average of 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths related to the flu occur each year. Cold and flu viruses are airborne and can easily be passed from one person to another. Those with compromised immune systems have a greater chance of contracting a cold or the flu if they come into contact with these viruses.
Cold or flu?
Some find it difficult to differentiate between a cold and flu. So, how do you know the difference? Let's take a look at some of the main differentiating factors below:
Keep in mind that a cold or flu may start off with similar symptoms, but the progression of each illness differs,
- Caused by the rhinovirus
- Itchy/ Scratchy throat
- Runny and stuffy nose
- Low-grade fever
- Some body ache symptoms
- Can lead to sinus and ear infections
- May last between 4–7 days
- Caused by the Influenza virus
- Sore throat
- Runny and stuffy nose
- Fever or chills
- Body aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Can lead to secondary bacterial infections that can develop into pneumonia
- May last about 7 days (or up to 14 days)
How may you be making your symptoms worse?
There are certain lifestyle factors that may contribute to a lowered immune system, and if not addressed, they can hinder your body's natural fighting mechanism against cold and flu viruses. These factors will also make your symptoms and the duration of the virus worse.
- Studies have found that stress is one of the main culprits of a depressed immune system and can be exacerbated by smoking (including vaping) or consuming alcohol. As these can often be used as coping mechanisms.
- Not getting sufficient sleep, or having poor quality sleep as this can lower your immune system and hinder your recovery from a cold.
- Smoking and vaping cause your body to overreact to viral infections, leaving you with longer recovery times, higher inflammation levels and even lung scarring.
- Poor nutrition can contribute to a compromised immune system. When you eat foods with low nutrient value, i.e. processed foods, sugary foods, you deplete your body from the necessary vitamins and minerals it needs to fight disease.
- Excessive exercise can possibly lead to catching a cold, especially if you already have one of the other factors mentioned above. Research from the 1980s indicated that exercise may lower your immune system, but research conducted in 2018 has proven that to be false. Strenuous exercise and over-exercising can, however, put unnecessary stress on your body and as mentioned before, stress is one of the main contributors of a lowered immune system.
- Dehydration can cause lowered immune function. A cold or flu virus causes an overproduction of mucus, which results in a loss of fluid in the body. Fever also draws out moisture and staying hydrated will help your body fight against these symptoms.
- Overuse of decongestants can result in a blocked nose if they are used for longer than 5 days. Decongestants work by drying up mucus. This action can also cause fluid loss as a side-effect and may even lead to dehydration.
Natural remedies to help offset the lifestyle factors that may be working against you
Certain natural remedies have been proven to be effective in not only treating cold and flu symptoms but also prevent the cold or flu from taking hold in the first place. A.Vogel's Echinaforce line-up of products have been clinically proven to help prevent and relieve symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections such as the common cold and the flu. Immune system health and sleep troubles can all be effectively addressed with A.Vogel's Echinaforce and Deep Sleep.
Let's take a look at the ingredients that make up these 2 products and how they can help.
The main ingredient that all of our Echinaforce cold and flu products have in common is Echinacea.
Echinacea is a native North American plant used throughout history by the native Indians in traditional medicine. The various species as well as plant parts such as the aerial parts as well as the roots are used for their therapeutic value and medicinal properties.
Echinacea has immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects. This means it can activate immune cells (neutrophils, macrophages, natural killer cells) and help prevent upper and lower respiratory infections.
Studies have shown that the echinacea plant is effective in reducing the duration of a cold. It is seen as one of the best natural remedies to take for colds and is most effective when taken at the first signs of illness.
A.Vogel Deep sleep
Is an effective natural remedy that has been clinically proven to improve sound sleep up to 25%. It helps to decrease sleep onset time and improves the quality of sleep. As an effective sleep aid, Deep sleep works very effectively due to the ingredients included in the formula.
Freshly grown Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) has been used by the ancient Romans and Greeks for its effects on insomnia and anxiety. And this is why it has been included in our Deep sleep formula.
Valerian is a helpful ingredient and can even help in recovery from a cold and flu.
If you are suffering from a cold or flu its certain that your body needs as much rest and sleep as possible to help strengthen your immune system, fight inflammation and low-grade fever, even while you sleep. If you are struggling to fall asleep, or want to go to bed earlier, taking a sleeping aid like Deep Sleep can help you sleep better and give your body the boost it needs to fight the virus.
A few additional remedies can help you strengthen your body's defenses: here are a couple:
Cold and flu symptoms can make you feel restless and agitated, especially when the symptoms aren't going away and you're not starting to feel better. Unfortunately, stressing and becoming more anxious about your symptoms will only make you feel worse and limit your body's capacity to respond against the virus.
This is where A.Vogel's Passion flower tincture can help. It is a renowned natural remedy that helps to treat nervousness, restlessness, agitation and irritability. It has even been shown to be as effective as benzodiazepine medications in reducing anxiety.
Ensuring you fill in the gaps with proper nutrition
If you are eating a diet void in nutrients (refined sugars and processed foods), you strip your body of the necessary fuel it needs to support a healthy and active immune system. Sugar can cause inflammation throughout your body, and while your immune system constantly tries to fight off the effects, you may be more susceptible and more at risk of catching a cold.
Missing nutrients like B Complex vitamins, vitamin C, zinc and magnesium can drastically lower your immune system. By adding a wholefood supplement like Bio-Strath to your everyday routine, you will slowly begin to nourish your body and support your immune system back to health, and in doing so, this will strengthen your defenses and further prevent you from catching the dreaded cold.
Additional helpful tips:
- Stay well hydrated
- Strongly consider quitting smoking or vaping if you have a cold
- Stop strenuous exercise at the first signs of getting ill
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid over-using cold and flu medication
If you avoid the lifestyle habits that may be continually compromising your immunity and If you keep your immune system in tip-top shape, your chance of catching a cold this winter will be slim. Even if you do get sick, taking the helpful natural remedies mentioned above and implementing certain lifestyle improvements will greatly decrease the duration and symptom severity of your cold.