Twinkling lights, crackling fires, steaming mugs of cocoa… and the inevitable runny nose. Yep, winter is here, so it’s prime time for colds, flu and the dreaded norovirus. A whopping 47 per cent of us say we fall ill more often in the winter months, according to research from Bio-tiful Dairy. And it always seems to happen when we stop for the Christmas holidays. This year, don’t let sore throats and sniffles ruin your festive season and stay healthy with our top tips:
Practise your handy work
Cold and flu viruses need to get from nose to nose. They’re spread by mucus in droplets that are sprayed out when you cough or sneeze and then inhaled. If virus-infected mucus gets on your fingers and you then touch a door handle, it can transfer to someone else’s hands. If they then touch their nose or eye, the virus passes on. So, washing your hands is the best way to lower your risk. Wash with soap if you can – try this one containing tea tree, a natural antibacterial. Alcohol-based wipes or hand gels are the next best thing and convenient if you’re travelling.
Heat your hooter
Keep warm, especially around your nose. More infections are spread in the winter because our noses get cold. This may sound strange, but studies show that if your nose chills, any infection you may be harbouring can be triggered and start causing symptoms. In fact, keeping warm overall is important – studies show if your feet get chilled, you’re more likely to develop symptoms. So, wrap up warm and hold a scarf loosely over your face on cold days.
Look after yourself
If you make good sleep a priority, deal with stress and eat a balanced, healthy diet, you will stop your immune system being compromised. See our top tips for a great sleep here.
Top up with vitamin D
There’s evidence to show most of us are short of the sunshine vitamin during the winter months. The science supporting the theory that vitamin D supplements prevent colds is fairly weak, but it might help and won’t do any harm.
There’s some evidence echinacea and pelargonium can help to prevent or reduce the duration of colds. If you’ve taken either herb before and found it helped you dodge a virus going around, it’s a good idea to stick with it.
Try a preventative nasal spray
You can buy sprays containing carrageenan, a seaweed extract, which can deactivate the virus, but only if you use it within 24-48 hours of your symptoms starting.