Without doubt, winter is the season for colds, coughs and flu – especially December, where infections tend to become prevalent. Keeping warm is essential, and wrapping up in your winter wools can help you avoid some of the germs that invade your body. 2012 was a mild autumn for the UK, and many people haven't been used to dressing warmly for harsh conditions.
With cold weather comes shivering, and shivering depresses the immune system making us more likely to catch colds. The immune system is also affected by lower levels of sunlight as well as altered levels melatonin and serotonin – 30 per cent of the body's heat is lost through the head!
Although most winter germs and infections are carried and transmitted by the aerosol effect, these bugs can also be transferred by physical contact. For example, if we don't wash our hands after coming to contact with germs, and then proceed to touch our eyes or mouth, the body is much more likely to suffer from the effects of cold and flu. Despite being equipped with defence mechanisms like hair and mucus, the eyes, nose and mouth still offer easy access to invading germs.
Whether you're on the bus or the tube, people tend to huddle together in colder weather. This makes it a lot more easier for germs to be transferred from one person to another, especially if you're in the vicinity of a sneeze! Confined spaces offer little ventilation, so try and get some fresh air whenever you can. Heat also weakens our defences, and the respiratory system can be affected by the drying out of protective mucus in the nasal passages.
Additionally, central heating causes dry throats and has the ability to aggregate chest complaints like asthma, so resist the temptation to leave the boiler on when sleeping! If you're having trouble getting a good night's sleep, Archers sleep centre offers a wide range of beds and memory foam mattress to suit every sleeper.
Winter viruses survive longer when the weather is moist, and low cloud combined with dull and misty conditions tend to bring an increase in germs. Colds and flu hang in the air that surrounds water droplets, so when it's windy and raining, viruses have the ability to travel large distances, affecting many people.
If your immune system isn't what it used to be, or it needs an extra helping to withstand the onslaught of germs, Echinacea should be introduced as an integral part of your daily routine. This type of plant is used to reduce the symptoms brought on by cold and flu, however originally it was used by Native Americans to heal wounds and infections. Echinacea does tend to lose effectiveness with longer usage, so it's best not to use it for more than six to eight weeks at a time.
Doctors recommend that the human body needs around eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy, but when under the effects of cold and flu, this dosage may need to be increased to ten to account for sweat loss. Water increases the kidney's efficiency to function properly, allowing the body to flush out the cold and flu toxins.