Don’t be too quick to assume you’re in the clear after cold and flu season ends. Warm weather doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less likely to get sick; in fact, some doctors say that summer colds can be worse because they are typically caused by enteroviruses, a strain less common in fall and winter months.1 Enteroviruses are notorious for not just bringing the usual coughing, congestion, and fever that most viruses cause, but they are also associated with symptoms like diarrhea, sore throat, rashes, and body aches. In many cases, it may even take longer to recover from a summer cold. Even more, viruses like COVID-19 can also spread in warm weather months.2
Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to minimize your risk of catching a cold, flu, or other illness. If you find yourself getting sick throughout the year, one of the following eight reasons may be to blame.
1. Lack of Vitamins (Particularly D)
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that help our bodies function properly. Vitamin C and zinc are often recommended to build up your immune system and ward off colds and flus, but vitamin D is another important player in immune health. Various studies have found that taking up to 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily can reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections, and more recently, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of COVID-19.3 Taking a vitamin D supplement is one way to get your daily intake of this essential nutrient, but it can also be found in food sources like fatty fish, egg yolks, and yogurt. Even better, sunshine is a natural source of vitamin D, so if you’re looking for more reasons to enjoy the outdoors, building up your immune system is a good one.
Hydration is another key factor in maintaining a healthy immune system. When you are dehydrated, your body cannot carry oxygen and nutrients to your cells or flush out bacteria and toxins that may lead to illness. Hydration also protects your organs and tissues and maintains your electrolyte balance. According to experts at Harvard, drinking four to six cups per day is typically sufficient for healthy people, though there's no one-size-fits-all answer.4 It’s best to drink liquids throughout the day and incorporate water-rich foods into your diet such as fruit and salads.
3. Unhealthy Diet
From processed foods to added sugars, there are many ways your diet can make you more susceptible to illness. Unhealthy foods often contribute to inflammation, cause spikes in blood sugar, and impair immune function.5 To ensure your diet is not making you sick, choose fresh foods over processed foods, eat foods from various food groups, and monitor your calorie intake.
4. Sleep Deprivation
Sleep doesn’t just help your body recover from a cold or flu when you have one, there’s also evidence that it may help you prevent getting sick in the first place. A study led by a UC San Francisco sleep researcher found that people who sleep six hours a night or less are four times more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the virus, compared to those who spend more than seven hours asleep.6 During sleep, our body produces cytokines associated with inflammation to help strengthen adaptive immunity.7 To help you get better sleep, implement a relaxing bedtime ritual like a hot bath or gentle yoga, minimize your screen time before bed, and limit your caffeine intake.
5. Not Washing Your Hands Well Enough
According to the CDC, when a community is educated on how to properly wash their hands, there is a 16-21 percent reduction in respiratory illnesses like colds.8 Hands are superspreaders of bacteria and viruses, lifted from surfaces and transported into the body via eyes, mouths, and noses. To help stop the spread, wash your hands frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap is not readily available, opt for hand sanitizer.
6. General Stress
According to a report by the American Psychological Association, stress weakens the responses of the immune system by decreasing the body's lymphocytes, the white blood cells that help fight off infection.9 Low levels of lymphocytes are associated with an increased risk for catching viruses like the common cold. Some easy ways to fight stress include exercise, socializing, getting enough sleep, and practicing mindfulness.
7. Immune Disorders
One reason for recurrent illnesses is immunodeficiency disease, which occurs when your body lacks the ability to produce antibodies and fight off infection. If you have an immune disorder, you may find that your infections last longer and can be more serious and harder to treat. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, there are more than 250 diseases which are due to defects in the body’s immune system and are often inherited genetically.10 Talk to your doctor if you suspect you have an immune disorder, as you may have to receive infusions of antibodies called intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG).
8. Bad Oral Health
Taking care of your oral health doesn’t just protect your health; it can also protect your immune system. According to the Mayo Clinic, poor oral health may cause certain bacteria in your mouth to be pulled into your lungs, resulting in pneumonia and other respiratory infections.11 To protect your oral health, brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time, floss daily, and limit sugary foods and drinks.
How to Stop Sickness Before it Hits
Based on the evidence above, you can stop sickness before it hits by following a healthy diet, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, washing your hands frequently, monitoring your stress levels, and practicing good oral hygiene.
If you still manage to get sick, resist the urge to merely mask symptoms with an over-the-counter medication laden with harsh, synthetic chemicals. These are notorious for causing side effects. If you are infected with a virus, even prescription medications like antibiotics won’t do any good. One option to help you recover faster is taking Brillia’s Cold-Flu Recovery, a homeopathic non-prescription medication, which uses antibodies to precisely target the macromolecules in your system that cause cold and flu symptoms. In addition to reducing congestion, sore throat, cough, and body aches, Brillia Health Cold-Flu Recovery is also designed to strengthen the immune system, minimizing your risk of catching a secondary infection like pneumonia or bronchitis.
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