Cold and Flu Center
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General Health Information
The common cold is caused by over 200 different viruses that infect the upper respiratory tract (nasal passages, sinuses, and throat), most generally when a person?s immune system is weak. Children are at increased risk for catching colds and flu because their immune systems are not yet fully developed. Most people get one or two colds per year, and they are self-limiting from 7 to 10 days. Symptoms include head congestion and headache, fever and watery eyes, cough and sneezing, as well as general malaise, aches and pains. These symptoms are similar to symptoms of allergies except for the fact that allergies do not cause fevers or infections. Sometimes a cold may lead to more serious conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or flu. Because the common cold and the flu are caused by viruses, prescription antibiotics cannot cure the common cold or flu. The flu differs from a cold because it occurs in epidemics and flu symptoms are more severe.
The health of the immune system plays an important part in your susceptibility to colds and flu. Keeping your immune system in good shape with a healthy lifestyle includes a program of proper nutrition, exercise, stress-management, good sleep, as well as avoiding harmful chemicals and pollutants such as tobacco Avoid excess amounts of alcohol and sugar which can impair the immune system.
Boosting a weakened immune system may help to prevent the catching of a cold or the flu. Nutrients and herbs that aid the enhancement of the immune system include echinacea, ginseng, arginine, zinc, selenium, as well as the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E. If you catch a cold or the flu it is especially helpful to continue to take vitamin C, zinc (especially in lozenge form), and echinacea. Elderberry, beta 1,3 glucan, colostrum, and astragalus are also helpful. Optimal nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, combined with proper supplementation are all important in bolstering a strong immunity and thus preventing colds and flu.
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Additional Information on Cold and Flu