It’s that season of the year again, that is usually characterised by dusty and dry wind. And this predisposes many of us to cold and flu. Experience has shown that common cold and flu is always very rampant in children and adults during the period, in fact, it’s usually difficult to spare anyone.
Differentiating common cold from flu, scientists, explained that common cold manifests with a trilogy of symptoms: sore throat, blocked nose, and cough. There are more than 200 viruses that can cause the common cold, but rhinoviruses are by the far the most common culprits.
The flu, they said is caused by the influenza virus, of which there are three types: influenza A, influenza B, and influenza C. “Common colds and flu share many symptoms, but an infection with influenza often also manifests with a high temperature, aching, and cold sweats or shivers — a good way to tell the two apart”, says a Medical News Today report.
Why do we have cold and flu?
The experts further explained how these viruses normally try to break our bodies defence mechanism, and gain entrance through the noses.
The report stated that once a virus has penetrated this defense mechanism, the immune system takes control of fighting off the intruder. Phagocytes, which are specialised immune cells, engulf and digest viruses. But cold air has also been linked to a decrease in this activity.
This explains why we are actually discouraged from using dirty fingers to touch our eyes, nose, or mouth, because these are the gates to the body.
How to ward off cold and flu in Harmattan
The best way to protect yourself is by washing your hands with soap and water frequently, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and staying away from people who are already infected.
These rules also apply to influenza. The CDC recommends a yearly flu shot as the best way of preventing infection.
However, should you fall prey to harmattan virus; there are natural remedies to help you out.
Natural remedies for cold and flu
Garlic– A powerhouse natural antibiotic, anti fungal, and antibacterial, garlic can tackle almost any illness. For the most potent effect, finely mince 1-2 cloves or garlic and float in a small glass of water.
Hot Liquids– This one is pretty instinctive, but load up on the hot herbal teas and hot lemon water at first sign of illness. The heat helps boost immune system and a variety of herbs can help with infection.
Face Steam– In a pinch, this can be made with kitchen herbs. Boil 1-2 cups of water in a large pot. Remove from heat, add 2 teaspoons each of thyme, rosemary and oregano. Cover for 5 minutes with a lid, and then remove lid and put face directly over pot with towel covering your head to hold in the heat. Breathe in the steam as long as you can, aim for 15 minutes. This will help loosen congestion and kill viruses and bacteria in the lungs, bronchials or sinuses. Alternately, you can use 1/2 cup vinegar in the steam. It won’t smell great, but it will help fight the illness.
Remove White Foods– At the first sign of illness, completely remove all white foods from the diet. This includes grains, sugars, milk, cheese, dairy, sweeteners, soda, etc. These foods suppress immune function and slow the body’s healing ability. When you are ill, you don’t actually need to eat a lot of food, as the body needs to focus more on healing than digestion. Eat fresh chicken soup and drink hot liquids to keep strength up.
Hydrate and Rest– If the body is running a fever (which means it is fighting the illness) the best support you can give is to stay well hydrated on water and herbal teas and to rest enough. The body needs several extra hours of rest a day when ill, and often several extra glasses of water also. If you are running a fever, it is easier to get dehydrated, so drink enough water!