Each year, one in five Australians suffers from the influenza virus, with more than 2.5 million people taking time off work to overcome their symptoms.
Although we are now heading towards warmer days, health professionals warn that this is not the time to let your guard down.
Pharmacist Gerald Quigley says the change of season is a key time to suffer from the flu.
He explains that throughout winter our immune system works overtime to fight against viral infections and is always active, but slows down in the warmer months.
“As the weather warms up towards the end of winter, our immune system relaxes and we tend not to rug up as much as we should,” he said.
“This also means we become a little careless when the sun appears. Nurturing our immune system all year enhances wellness and reduces the impact of an invading viral infection at any time of the year.”
Although many of us try to “soldier on” and deal with the symptoms, Gerald warns this will only make matters worse.
He says it is important to seek affective treatment and, above all, get lots of rest so that symptoms aren’t prolonged.
“The best way to fight a winter bug is to take time off work and get plenty of rest, keep warm and drink lots of water,” he said.
“It’s also important to increase immune supporting foods like garlic and onion to your diet when you are feeling particularly run down.”
Gerald says that apart from not getting adequate rest, flu sufferers ignore their symptoms for too long.
“A survey by the Chemists’ Own brand showed that a quarter of Australians persist with symptoms for at least three days before finally getting treatment, with one in five failing to treat a nagging cough or cold at all,” he said.
“While there are no hard and fast cures to beat the common cold and flu, there are over-the-counter remedies that can help ease the symptoms.
“Rather than ignoring the symptoms and therefore spreading germs and prolonging your illness, the best course of action is to take a trip to your local pharmacist who will be able to determine whether you have a simple infection like the common cold, or something more serious such as the influenza virus.”
Here are Gerard’s 5 top tips to surviving the cold and flu season:
1. Drink plenty of liquids to maintain hydration.
2. Increase your intake of Vitamin A and C and zinc from nutritious food to help your body withstand viral infection.
3. Eat immune supporting foods like garlic and onions.
4. Keep warm at all times to avoid a chill.
5. Most importantly - get plenty of bed rest.
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