Immunity and The Defense SystemOur body is constantly in contact with bacteria, viruses, radiation and pollution. Therefore, we need a strong defense system to protect us from getting ill. A strong and healthy defense system consist of the intact physical defense system (skin and mucous layer) and the healthy immune system.
Common Cold and FluA common cold is an infection of upper respiratory tract, which is the nose and throat. Any one of more than 200 viruses can cause a common cold. Influenza is a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system, including the nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. Anyone can get the flu, but young children, older adults, people with weakened immune systems and those with chronic illnesses are especially vulnerable.
Signs and SymptomsSymptoms of a common cold usually appear about 1-3 days after exposure to a cold virus. Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly. And we usually feel much worse with the flu.
Signs and symptoms of a common cold and flu may include:
The discharge from our nose may become thicker and yellow or green in color as a common cold runs its course.
Risk FactorsThe risk of a cold or flu is increased when we are exposed to cold or flu viruses, have an allergic reaction that affects the nasal passages or have a weakened immune system.
PreventionWe can take some precautions to slow the spread of cold or flu viruses by washing our hands often, keeping kitchen and bathroom countertops clean, sneezing and coughing into tissues, not sharing drinking glasses or utensils with other family members, and avoiding close, prolonged contact with anyone who has a cold.
Steps that can help us stay healthy include thorough and frequent hand washing, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and avoiding crowds during the flu season.
Consider the Alternatives
Source: Wintergerst ES, et al. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Ann Nutr Metab 2006; 50: 85-94.