Influenza is caused by a virus that specifically targets the respiratory system. It can lead to cold symptoms like sneezing and a sore throat, as well as body aches. While most people infected with the flu recover, complications can lead to pneumonia or worsen long-term conditions like heart disease. A vaccine is available for flu immunity, but because the flu virus changes rapidly, it is still possible to catch the disease even if you are vaccinated. Thus to prevent the flu, it is important to strengthen the immune system.
Symptoms of the Flu
The flu is often mistaken for the common cold. While the two may seem similar they are very different. Both are illnesses that affect the respiratory system and can cause similar symptoms, but these conditions are caused by different viruses. Looking more closely at the symptoms can help you differentiate one from the other.
The flu and colds share a few common symptoms. People with either sickness often experience:
- A runny nose
- Body aches
- General fatigue
Flu symptoms are more severe compared to the symptoms of colds.
Another way to differentiate these two is the seriousness of the illness. Colds do not commonly lead to other health problems, while flu can lead to more serious conditions like sinus and ear infections, pneumonia, and sepsis. More serious complications may arise especially in the elderly who have comorbidities.
How to Strengthen Flu Immunity
Below are some of the ways you can prevent getting these symptoms by strengthening your immunity against the flu.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep and immunity work hand-in-hand. When you experience a shortage of sleep, you are more prone to sickness. Those who only get a few hours of sleep are more susceptible to colds compared to those who get enough amounts of sleep.
Getting sufficient rest benefits the whole body. During sleep, the body regenerates and heals. Crucially, sleep is the time when the body distributes immune cells like cytokines and T cells.
Eat More Plant-Based Food
Fruits, vegetables, and nuts are plant-based food that are rich in nutrients. Zinc, iron, folate, and vitamins A, C, and E give your immune system the nutrients it needs to do its job, and fruits and vegetables are rich in them. Plant-based food also has antiviral and antimicrobial properties.
Limit Added Sugars
Being overweight and obese increase your chances of getting sick. Controlling sugar intake can help in weight loss and can also decrease inflammation.
Participating in regular moderate exercise can strengthen your immune system. It can reduce inflammation and help your immune cells to regenerate quickly. It also helps in the circulation of cells in your body. Examples of moderate exercise include bicycling, jogging, swimming, and hiking.
Staying hydrated surely doesn’t stop viruses from entering your body, but avoiding dehydration contributes to one’s overall health. Headaches, abnormal digestion, strained focus and mood, and disruption of the functions of your body organs are effects of dehydration. Having these complications can increase your chances of getting sick.
Drink enough fluids daily to decrease the chance of being dehydrated. Water is the recommended fluid to take.
One key to a stronger immune system is to relieve stress and anxiety. Stress promotes inflammation. It also contributes to imbalances in the immune system. It is best to practice doing things that help you manage your stress. This includes exercise, meditation, and other calming practices.
It is easy to depend on supplements when we hear about their ability to fight illnesses. No evidence supports the use of supplements to treat illnesses. However, some supplements do strengthen your immune system. Some of these supplements are those that contain vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and garlic.
A range of negative health effects including lowered immune function is associated with high amounts of alcohol intake. High levels of alcohol consumption slow down the recovery time of your body and it also weakens your system ability to fight infection. If you do not drink alcohol, it is best to keep it that way for your health. If you drink occasionally, consider limiting your alcohol consumption.
You can do many things to help your immune system to become stronger. These include eating healthy food, reducing alcohol consumption, staying hydrated, working out, getting a decent amount of sleep, and managing your stress levels. These things will not ensure that you do not catch the flu, but they may bolster your body’s natural defense system against viruses and other harmful pathogens.
Learn more about Respiratory Health here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.