Cold and flu season begins in December, but it isn’t until February and March that it reaches its pinnacle of infectious havok, often affecting millions.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) figures that between October of 2019 and January 18, 2020, between 15 and 21 million people have suffered. The death rate is around .1 percent.
The flu is a virus which is different than the common cold. Yearly, the virus mutates and becomes hard for the natural antibodies in the immune system to protect against. This makes the sickness more communicable and harder for the body to ward off once infected.
The flu is different than the common cold in a few ways. First its symptoms appear rather quickly upon contraction. Colds start with a scratchy throat, runny nose, and can escalate when rest and recovery is not taken into consideration. Colds often have more of a mucus response than does the flu. The flu can include feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue, often to a greater degree.
The flu can be treated and the body can fight the virus off usually in five days, while a common cold may last much longer. The danger is the severity of the symptoms. The flu can be remedied with common antiviral medications, which help the body rid itself of the infection.
Certain areas, like Central Oregon, which can be cool and dry for long stretches support the flu virus. The dry air keeps the mucus membranes of the nasal passage — which usually can intercept a virus — dry. Also, the dark days of Northern Hemisphere winter deplete the body of immune-supporting vitamin D. Our body is low in vitamin D right when the pinnacle of flu season is upon us.
The nature of winter months is that people end up being in close quarters with others. More people flocking to the indoors creates a better incubator for virus. Also, indoors the air tends to be less humid than outside.
Eating a healthful diet, resting, and regularly washing hands will be paramount to avoid illness. The flu is concerning, but it is a yearly occurrence. Being afraid, avoiding public places, or flooding the family practice with fear of the illness will only create complications for everyone. Knowing that the best armor against the flu is treating oneself’s health and wellness respectfully is a good place to start.
Eat well, stay hydrated, and rest.