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Colds and The Flu: Basics


There is no one who does not know what it is like to suffer with a cold or flu. While there are many preventative measures to try and avoid them, chances are you will regularly be exposed to colds and the flu. 

Each time we reach for the doorknob in a public bathroom or shake hands with a friend we are sharing bacteria and viruses with the world around us. Cold and flu viruses are among us year round, but only winter is called the cold and flu season. The reason for this is that in colder weather we tend to gather together indoors, thus passing viruses to each other. No one wants to give up these happy times together so we should all take steps to avoid exposure such as washing our hands often and strengthening our immune systems by living a healthy, active life. 

If we give our immune system what it needs to thrive, we increase our chances of fighting off infection or if we do catch a cold or flu, reducing its duration. Our bodies will always run more efficiently if given the right tools, a healthy diet, important vitamins and minerals and a fit, strong heart and circulatory system. Even with all the above steps you will still more than likely occasionally catch a cold. The good news is that there is more available to us than just syrups and pills in the drug store. Treating your cold or flu naturally can give you the same relief as store bought remedies, without the side effects. Taking vitamin C, drinking herbal tea, plenty of liquids and hot chicken soup provide you with relief and vitamins your body needs to heal. 

Many times if you visit the doctor with a cold or flu you will automatically be handed a prescription for an antibiotic. Antibiotics only work against bacterial infections not against cold and flu viruses, but they are still prescribed. The rationale is that the antibiotic helps protect against a secondary bacterial infection that could occur. The problem is that there are dangers involved with taking antibiotics unnecessarily. Unfortunately, in our society antibiotics are over prescribed. This is not to say they do not have a place in our world, but they should be used with caution and other methods are safer with fewer chances of adverse side effects. 

When suffering from a fever, reducing food intake and substituting liquids can be very helpful. In the case of children, your pediatrician will guide you, but for healthy adults, fevers are a signal our body is fighting the infection. Taking Tylenol for fever reduction may slow the fever but that could also prolong the sickness. When speaking to your child’s pediatrician, inquire about herbs like Echinacea or golden seal to prevent colds and flu. Also, a daily multi vitamin for kids can be found in fun shapes and yummy flavors at your local health food store. There are so many myths about colds, the flu and antibiotics so do not be afraid to visit a licensed herbalist or ask your healthcare provider about natural alternatives. 

Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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