The most widely accepted reason for flu outbreaks during the colder winter months is the fact that colder temperatures lead to drier air. This can dehydrate mucus, which prevents the body from effectively expelling virus particles. Research done on guinea pigs has also shown that the aerosol transmission of the flu virus is enhanced when the air is cold and dry, with low humidity, as it seems to be more stable and stays in the air longer.
Other key factors that reportedly increase our susceptibility to the flu include an increase in person to person contact, as we tend to spend more time indoors, and poor hygiene practices, which help spread the virus through contact with infected surfaces. Reduced exposure to sunlight and a subsequent reduction in vitamin D production can also weaken our immune systems, making us more susceptible.
However, while experts may hold different views on the exact reasons for this seasonal increase, the steps for preventing the flu remain the same. A strong immune system and good hygiene remain your primary defense against contracting contagious illnesses.
You can boost your immune system by eating a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and fish. You can also fortify your immune system by taking immune-boosting supplements like omega-3 fish oil and vitamin B12, C and D. Getting a flu vaccination is also said to be between 70 and 90% effective in warding off flu, depending on the length and intensity of a given flu season and your overall health.
Further to this, basic hygiene, like regularly cleaning your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser can also reduce your risk of catching the flu. Interestingly though, proper nasal hygiene will often play an even more important role in keeping you healthy throughout winter.
“The nose is actually the most likely point of entry for airborne flu viruses, and when this happens our body responds by increasing the production of mucus in the nose and sinuses, in an attempt to kill off the virus,” says Steven Reitzer of Reitzer Pharmaceuticals, manufacturers of the Salex Metered Saline Spray. “However, this overproduction of mucus often becomes infected, leading to secondary infections of the ear or respiratory tract. A saline nasal spray can help to clear the nasal passages from mucus and infectious agents, and also moistens the mucous membranes of the nose and sinuses.”
Reitzer explains that by removing excess mucous from the nose with a saline spray the mucosa are moisturised and the cilia are free to filter the viruses from the air we breathe. “A metered spray system is also the most hygienic and effective means for preventing secondary infections, as it does not allow suck-back into the bottle the way a regular nozzle does. The saline solution is also isotonic, which means it has the same salt concentration as the nasal mucosa, so it doesn’t burn or sting the nasal passages.”
The Salex Metered Saline Spray is safe for use during pregnancy and breast feeding and because it is made using distilled water and sodium chloride there are no contaminants or other ingredients that might cause further problems. The Salex Metered Saline Spray can be used as many times per day as required and will help you stave off the dreaded flu this winter.