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Avoid the dreaded summer head cold – here’s how

Avoid the dreaded summer head cold – here’s how

Avoid the dreaded summer head cold – here’s how

It doesn’t have to be cold outside to catch a summer head cold. Look around and no doubt you will see many people coughing and sniffling at this time of year.

I’m working from home today, surrounded by a mountain of tissues, throat lozenges and cups of tea. I can hear my eldest son barking out a nasty cough in the lounge room and a cacophony of sneezes from my husband in the bedroom. I have to remind myself that people are dealing with serious, life-threatening illness all around the world, that my run-of-the-mill head cold will go as quickly as it arrived, but the reality is I feel lousy.

There’s lots of reasons why it’s common to catch a cold at this time of year. If you have had a busy year your immune system may be down. Your immune system may be compromised if you are burning the candle at both ends, trying to get work down before the Christmas break, buying presents, end of year celebrations, and the other 101 things that may be on your to-do list.  You may be drinking more alcohol or eating more than usual and sleeping less.

During the summer months, the viruses that are hanging around are also different to the ones that are most common in the winter. During summer, most colds are caused by the enterovirus, whereas in winter it’s the rhinovirus that is mostly responsible for colds and flu.

The enterovirus is responsible for colds that like to hang around, with lingering coughs and feelings of tiredness. Along with symptoms of congestion, sore throats and coughing, the summer cold is also commonly associated with aching joints and general fatigue.

How to fight summer flu

Like rhinovirus, enterovirus is spread by coughing and sneezing, making it highly contagious. As well as strengthening your immune system with fruit and vegetables, good quality sleep, water, regular exercise and plenty of relaxation is important when trying to avoid getting a cold. Keep your hands clean with soap and water, and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to avoid transferring germs.

If you have succumb to the dreaded lurgy, the best thing you can do is rest, otherwise, it will take longer for you to recover. When you sleep and rest you allow your body to focus on fighting the infection. Likewise, it’s a good idea to eat lightly as you recover, so your body can focus on fighting the infection rather than digestion. You may even notice that your appetite has decreased which is the body’s way of letting you know it needs energy to fight the infection rather than digesting food. Foods that are easy to digest, like soup, are ideal for treating a cold and flu. A broth from vegetable, beef, chicken or fish stock, with vegetables, chicken, onions and garlic is ideal.

As well as resting, during lots of fluids is also the most important thing you can do to speed up recovery. Keep the fluids clear and alcohol-free. Water is the best fluid to drink as it helps to thin out mucus. Hot drinks like herbal tea or hot water with lemon and honey, can relieve congestion.

When it comes to reducing the severity of cold symptoms, many studies have shown that vitamin C significantly alleviates infections. Most studies have been on a dosage of 1g per day of vitamin C, however, research from the University of Helsinki has shown that doses higher than 1g per day usually found greater effects than trials with exactly 1g per day, which suggests a dose-dependent effect. The researchers concluded that given the consistent effect of vitamin C on the duration of colds, and its safety and low cost, it would be worthwhile for individual common cold patients to test whether therapeutic 8g/day vitamin C is beneficial for them.

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