Why Does the Flu Strike More in Winter?
Why does flu strike commonly in winter? Is there a definitive season for flu? The answer lies in understanding the diseases itself. Flu, or influenza as it is known, hits us as a respiratory illness caused by a virus that invades the cells in our body and leads to sickness.
Flu is often confused with common cold due to similar symptoms which may include a sore throat, cough, and/or sneezing. Symptoms of the flu also include high fever and body ache along with long-drawn-out exhaustion, headaches and gastro-intestinal conditions such as diarrhea and vomiting among others.
What Reports Say
Flu can be contagious. Influenza can spread via the sneezing and coughing of a person infected. It impacts the elderly or children the most along with those with a weaker immune system.
200,000 people in the USA are hospitalized every year due to flu. And approximately 36,000 people die of the same annually.
What is the Flu Season?
The United States flu season may start anytime between October and December. The season reaches peak levels in February, before ending in the month of March.
Flu season in the southern hemisphere is usually between June and September. Winter is usually accompanied by flu and you will be surprised to know that influenza actually means influenza di freddo or influence of the cold that according to scientists, doesn’t have to anything with the cold season. Surprised?
Then, why does flu spread faster during winter?
Lack of sunlight and lower temperatures are among the common causes of flu along with other factors.
- In winter, people spend most of their time indoors with windows shut and doors closed. This helps the virus spread faster.
- Sunlight is absent during winters, leading to lower levels of melatonin and Vitamin D for the body. This may reduce an individual’s ability to fight the virus.
- Studies have found that influenza survives for longer periods at lower temperatures and humidity levels. And that could be a reason why the influenza turns bitter in winter.
- Infection rates in summer are usually linked to rainfall and humidity levels.
- The influenza virus thrives in drier and colder weather. So, the virus can infect more during winter.
Tips for Flu or Influenza Prevention
There are many preventive measures that you can take to reduce your risk of coming down with flu. Some of these are listed in the following pointers –
- Wash your Hands Frequently – Washing your hands regularly is a must during the flu season. Specifically, wash or sanitize your hand after shaking it with someone infected. The disease can spread through sneezes and coughs and also through touching the surfaces infected. Whenever you touch your mouth, nose or eyes, the virus may enter your body as a result. Always wash your hands for a few seconds in warm water with soap. This should be done before eating and whenever you sneeze or cough.
- Keep Sick Family Members and Friends at a Distance – While it is hard, stay at a distance (physically) from friends and family members suffering from flu. If you are suffering from flu, you too should try to stay away from others in the family until you have recovered.
This will help you lower chances of spreading the virus. You should also try avoiding going into crowds or to work or school.
- Get all Surfaces Disinfected – Make sure that switches, surfaces, door knobs and telephones are clean and disinfected in your home. Wipe all surfaces regularly with a sanitizer.
Have separate towels and napkins for those who have flu. Always throw away tissues instantly after using them.
- Consume a Healthy Diet- You should consume a healthy and balanced diet to strengthen your immune system and keep the flu away. Consume lots of vegetables and fruits along with kefir, salmon, tuna, walnuts, and flaxseed.
These foods are rich source of healthy, fatty acids. Consider almonds, Brussels sprouts and Broccoli as well.
Yogurt is also a great food for reducing your chances of catching a cold or virus infection.
- Get Adequate Rest – Sleep for a minimum of 7-8 hours every day. Get proper rest and sleep to fortify your immune system against the flu.
- Give up Smoking – People who smoke are more prone to contracting respiratory ailments. This leads to frequent cold, cough, and sneezing, and may drag you into the trap of flu. So, give up smoking and you will feel the difference.
- Keep Humidity Levels in Check – You can consider getting a vaporizer or humidifier for regulating the humidity level inside your house. Proper heating will ensure a dry climate and lower the chances of infections.
- Exercise Well – Exercise is the best remedy for killing viruses in the body. It also helps you lead a happier, healthier and better life. Work out and sweat hard regularly to stay fit, strong and free from influenza.
How can I Secure Myself against Flu?
Getting your flu shot on time is always the best practice for keeping the disease at bay. Get yourself vaccinated and immunized before the flu season begins. Getting flu shots helps you stay away from many related conditions as well, apart from allowing you to lead a super active winter.
Missed your flu shots? Visit EPIC Primary Care today get yourself vaccinated against flu. Call 313-861-4400 in Ferndale and 248-336-4000 in Detroit to book your flu shots today!