Tuesday, September 20th 2022, 5:00 am - Canada’s cough and cold season is around the corner! As temperatures begin to descend, the chances of catching a cold rises. Here’s how to prevent, prepare, and protect your health against the season of symptoms ahead.
The fall season is a beautiful time of year to get outdoors and watch the vibrant fall leaves change, a final show to set the stage for winter. The last thing you want is to come down with a cold and miss out on your favourite fall and winter festivities.
With these expert health tips from Rexall pharmacist, Mohammad Alkhalili, you may not have to. But first, why do colds strike during colder weather?
“In colder weather, people tend to be indoors, in close contact within enclosed spaces. So that's thought to be a major contributing factor in spreading the virus. In addition to the colder weather there's lower humidity — and that is thought to actually allow the virus to spread more easily,” Alkhalili explained.
When exposed to cold temperatures and low humidity for long durations of time, your immune system tends to get affected — making you more susceptible to getting a cold as well.
“A Lot of these viruses are spread through respiratory droplets. So that could be through talking, sneezing, or coughing,” explains Alkhalili.
It can be an especially tricky time of year to navigate, with children returning to the classroom and many adults working inside the office once more. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) common colds are the main reason that children miss school and adults miss work.
(Credit: Getty Images)
So what steps can we take to help prevent ourselves from getting sick?
- Proper hand hygiene — wash hands for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your face
- Get lots of rest
- Eat healthy foods and stay hydrated
- Get Vitamin D
Vitamin D, or the “sunshine vitamin” is widely known to help muscle and bone health — but studies show it also helps to fight acute respiratory infection. Since we’re exposed to less sunlight during the winter months, it’s important to get Vitamin D through foods and supplements.
Now that we know how to prevent it, let’s learn how to better prepare for potential symptoms.
“If you are experiencing mild symptoms, some things you could do is ensure proper rest and hydration,” Alkhalili explained.
Alkhalili also recommended:
- Steam or humidifier for nose congestion
- Warm fluids soothe coughs
- Gargling salt to help soothe sore throat
- Honey in warm drinks
While treating and reducing symptoms can help us get through the day, it’s important to know when to hang up the hat and stay home, especially when it comes to the COVID-19 virus — which is known to spread more easily during the colder seasons.
“Especially this coming season, it's very difficult to distinguish between whether you've got the common cold or COVID symptoms. So one thing we do recommend is to do a rapid test at home. Aside from that, here are some ways to differentiate between the symptoms,” Alkhalili said.
COVID-19 (symptoms more severe):
- Fever or chills
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Dry cough, sore throat
- Potential loss of taste or smell
- Body aches
- Severe fatigue
Common Cold (symptoms less severe):
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Slight body aches
- Cough or sore throat
- Rarely does it have a significant fever
(Credit: Getty Images)
Now that we know how to prevent and prepare, let’s focus on how to protect our health.
- Staying up to date with vaccinations
- Staying on top of your medication
- Staying home and isolating when necessary
It’s also important to allow proper ventilation indoors, despite the cooler temperatures outside! According to the CDC moving air into, out of, or within a room can help prevent virus particles from accumulating in indoor air.
So briefly open a window every now and again, it can be great for protecting your health.
Of course, if you're a busy parent, caretaker or are self-isolating it may be difficult to stay on top of your healthcare needs - opting for delivery could help.
“Rexall does home delivery where you can get prescriptions and treatments direct to your door. A neat feature is you can actually link your Be Well app to your local pharmacy as well. You can take a photo of your prescription and submit it to your local pharmacy…(and) schedule a pickup time,” Alkhalili explained.
Remember the steps to better prevent, prepare, and protect your health! We hope with these wellness tips, you can face any cough or cold symptom head-on with confidence and get the most out of the season ahead.