With summer coming to end, the cold and flu season is right around the corner. As the weather gets cooler, infection rates to increase.
There are a few reasons why cold and flu infections are more common during cold weather. For starters, people typically spend more time indoors, meaning transmission is easier. The cold weather also creates dry air that allows cold and flu viruses to spread more easily. While you can't prevent the weather from changing, there are ways to prepare for the upcoming cold and flu season.
To lower your risk of catching the flu, you should consider vaccination. While there isn't a vaccine to protect against the common cold, there is a vaccine available for the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it's about 50% effective at preventing infection. With a flu vaccine, in other words, you'll be 50% less likely to catch the flu virus.
Don't underestimate the importance of hydration. Dehydration can suppress your body's immune system so that it's less effective at defending against cold and flu viruses. Unfortunately, statistics show that nearly one-third of the U.S. population is chronically dehydrated. If you're among this group, you should strive to increase your intake of water. At minimum, you should drink 64 ounces of water daily to stay hydrated. If you fall below this amount, you could succumb to dehydration that, among other things, increases your risk of infection.
Spend Time Outdoors
When the weather gets cooler, you may find yourself spending little or no time outdoors. While staying cooped up inside your home or office may sound harmless, though, it can leave you susceptible to infection. People who spend most of their time indoors have higher rates of cold and flu infection because they don't get enough sunshine. Sunshine is an excellent source of vitamin D, which is used by the immune system to fight off infections. Therefore, you should try to spend more time outdoors to strengthen your immune system during the cold and flu season.
Change Your Diet
The foods you eat can affect your risk of catching a cold or flu. Sugary and processed foods are the worst because they suppress the body's immune system. Research has shown that a high-sugar diet increases the risk of infection. In comparison, natural foods -- specifically fruits and vegetables -- have the opposite by promoting a stronger and more effective immune system.