Your child has a runny nose, your co-workers are coughing and the guy in the grocery line behind you just sneezed for the second time. It all adds up to one thing – cold and flu season is back. With millions of Canadians infected each year, what’s the best way to deal with cold and flu symptoms? And what are the best ways to avoid catching a cold or the flu in the first place?
What’s the difference between colds and the flu?
While people often confuse the two, colds are generally milder and more common than the flu. The symptoms of a cold typically include sneezing, muscle aches, runny nose, cough and a mild fever. The flu tends to be more severe and sudden in its onset. Influenza type C viruses cause only mild illness similar to a common cold while types A and B share the classic flu symptoms: sudden onset of chills, high fever, headache, muscle ache, nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue.
Cold and flu season starts in October and can go as late as April, although it usually peaks around February. Children younger than two are especially vulnerable, as well as seniors, pregnant women and anyone with a chronic medical condition like asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
Strategies for staying healthy
While there is no “cure” for a cold or the flu, that doesn’t mean you’re defenceless – natural health products like Umcka or Sambucus can help alleviate the symptoms of cold and flu. Plus, making proactive changes to your lifestyle, behaviour and diet will help you protect against getting sick in the first place.
Let’s start with a few basic stay-healthy strategies:
Already have a cold or the flu? Consider trying a natural health supplement to help alleviate the symptoms and get you back on your feet sooner. For example:
While there’s no cure for colds or the flu, combining an “ounce of prevention” with natural health supplements to alleviate cold and flu symptoms will help protect you and your family. Back to school is busy enough without having to deal with sneezing and sniffles!
 William Schaffner, MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.