Sunday, March 2, 2008


It’s that’s time of year again - Cold and Flu season.  People are getting antsy from staying indoors, everybody has had enough of the cold weather. Although the flu season starts around November, it seems that the end of winter is when most people come down with the flu or cold bug.

But, do you know the difference between a flu and a cold?

The flu or influenza, is a viral upper respiratory illness that comes on suddenly, causing symptoms such as fever, body aches, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, a dry cough, and a sore or dry throat. Often a flu can lead to a bacterial infection like bronchitis, an ear infection or sinus infection. In the worst case, pneumonia may develop.

A cold is also an infection of the upper respiratory system but is not so severe. Symptoms include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat, sneezing, watery eyes and congestion.

1 in 4 Canadians get the flu each year. It is estimated that between 4,000 and 8,000 Canadians die every year from serious complications of the flu.

The average person gets the common cold two to four times a year. Children can get the common cold as many as ten times a year!

Typically you catch the cold or flu through the air by coughs or sneezes.
Three influenza pandemics occurred in the 20th century. The worst was at the turn of the century where the Spanish Flu killed close to 100 million people.

There is no such thing as a “Stomach flu”. This is actually viral gastroenteritis, or simply put - a mild case of food poisoning.

Do you want to successfully fight the cold and flu? Here are some simple steps;

1. Get adequate sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours of restful sleep.

2. Eat properly. Stop eating processed foods. Eat whole foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and meat. Forget the chips, granola bars and soy burgers…

3. Influenza thrives on drastic temperature changes. I know that’s kind of hard living in Winnipeg. Being smart to reduce the strain on your body’s immune system. Dress appropriately. If you have to go outside when it’s 30 below don’t forget a hat, gloves/mitts and warm boots. Keep your home at a comfortable temperature – not too warm.

4. Wash your hands regularly. Not only when you go the washroom, but after going out in public – be it shopping, going to a sporting event, a play or the gym.

5. Eat Garlic. This is a natural adaptogenic infection fighter. Known as the poor person’s antibiotic, Garlic help eradicate infections as they enter your immune system.

6. Get Vaccinated. Having a flu shot every fall or early winter helps boost your immunity. If you don’t like needles then ask for a nasal spray – it is just as effective. It may be too late to get the flu shot now – unless you’re off to the southern hemisphere this summer. Some companies will even pay for the flu shot at the beginning of the season – so take note for this fall.  Although I'm not a big fan of getting the flu shot, children and the elderly should consider it.

7. Exercise Regularly. Working out helps to relieve stress which in turn helps your body’s immune system. By building up the virus-fighting antibodies this can also improve the response when receiving a flu shot.If you currently have the flu – do NOT try and sweat it out. The additional stress on your body will just prolong the infection.