Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a dreaded force to be reckoned with during the winter season. Even though you may brush it off as a case of the sniffles, it is actually more serious than you may think.
“The truth is that the flu is actually a relentless and possibly life-threatening disease which kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide every year,” says Graham Anderson, CEO and Principal Officer at Profmed.
Colds and flu… What’s the difference?
Even though the common cold and the flu are both caused by a virus, they are not the same. They are, however, spread in similar ways – either via direct contact with infected or contaminated surfaces or by inhaling the airborne virus after affected individuals sneeze or cough.
Flu symptoms are usually more intense and sudden, and if left untreated, more serious complications can occur, such as pneumonia, inflammation of the heart and other bacterial infections.
A cold is a milder respiratory illness that tends to take much longer to kick in and is usually associated with a sore throat and runny nose. Also, with the flu, you can get a severe headache, pain in the joints and a fever, whereas with a cold, this may not happen.
Stay healthy this winter
A few basic preventative steps can help you protect yourself from the flu this winter. Follow these tips to safeguard yourself against the dreaded cold and flu:
1. Avoid close contact with people who are already sick, and vice versa. Keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too. If you cannot avoid contact, invest in some surgical masks to wear in and around the house.
2. Get a flu shot. You can vaccinate against influenza but not the common cold, so a person can still experience a cold following a flu shot. This is because the flu is caused by different virus types in contrast to a cold.
3. Wash your hands often to help protect you from bacteria. If soap and water are not available, use a waterless hand sanitizer.
4. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at work or at home, especially when someone has the sniffles.
5. Get plenty of sleep, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.