Snuff the sniffles
Is there really a way to forego the winter sniffles? Perhaps. Annika Linde, state epidemiologist at the Smittskyddsinstitutet (the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control), and Stefan Berg, senior physician and researcher at Uppsala University, share their knowledge in how to maximize your chances of staying healthy. Here are their seven tips, as presented in daily Expressen:
1. Exercise but not too much.“Make sure you’re physically fit,” says Berg. “If you are in shape you resist cold better. But don’t overdo exercise, because if you do, you break down your immunity system instead of strengthening it. If you make yourself tired, it’s easier to be receptive to infections. If you know there’s a cold going around, then take it easier with the exercise.”
2. Keep your distance. “Stay at home when you’re sick so others don’t get your cold,” says Linde. “That’s a great rule of thumb, and the best way of stopping the spread of a disease. But of course you cannot stay at home every time you get a stuffy nose. If you get out and about with a cold, think about what you do. Keep your distance and remember that the cold virus spreads in a radius of three to six feet.”
3. Stop smoking. "Smoking wreaks havoc on your defense system when it comes to bronchial infections and difficult cold.”
4. Sleep more. “If you make sure you get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night and keep your stress levels at a minimum, you’re more likely to avoid a cold. Mental stress may cause worse consequences to your body than overdoing physical activities. The best recipe for stress is to sleep and get an adequate dose of exercise. If you stress for too long a period you will break down your immunity system and get sick. Learn how to discover your own warning signals so you know when it is time to take it a bit easier.”
5. Eat your fruit and veggies. “In order for your mucous membranes to stay strong and healthy, you need vitamin C, which is found in fruit and vegetables,” explains Linde. “Fruit and vegetables also contain antioxidants that are important, especially during the cold and flu season. During these dark winter months we also need to replenish with vitamin D. Eat fatty fish, oils, and butter with vitamin D. It’s better to change the way you eat than to take supplements. However, older people, people with dark skin, and children need supplements.”
6. Wash your hands. “Good hand hygiene is the most important step in preventing the spreading of the cold virus. First and foremost it’s important to the person who is sick, but also other people. Soap and water is the best way to wash your hands, and you should wash your hands for quite a while. Make sure you get your fingers really clean. If you have no soap and water available, then use the antibacterial gel, carry it in your bag. Wash your hands before eating. Especially during this season.”
7. Listen to your body. “If you catch something, then listen to your body; you cannot keep going as usual. Your body will let you know if you need to rest. We have such high demands today, we would feel much better if we let ourselves feel sick sometimes. Try not to get back to work too early, but only when you feel you can handle it. If you go back too early, chances are you will soon be sick again.”