Cold and flu season generally occurs from October through May in the US, with a peak between December and February. There are many things that you can do to support your body and maintain your health throughout cold and flu season.
What’s the difference between a cold and the flu?
Both the common cold and seasonal flu are respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. Compared to the flu, symptoms of a cold are milder and shorter in duration and include sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, congestion and cough.
Flu symptoms can come on suddenly and are similar but also can include fever, chills, headache, fatigue and muscle ache. The flu lasts longer and can also cause serious problems requiring hospitalization. Of course, in this era of COVID-19, you should consult your doctor and get tested.
Colds or flu can lead to bacterial infections such as bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infections or pneumonia.
How to stay healthy during cold and flu season
Disease prevention must begin by keeping the immune system healthy. Immune system function can be affected by chronic infections, exposure to drugs, chemicals and toxic minerals, stress hormones, exercise, obesity and most importantly, diet and nutrients, or the lack thereof. To enhance your defenses, choose foods, supplements and lifestyle habits that support immune system function.
Fuel your body correctly
Nutritional status plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Avoid foods that are inflammatory to the body such as packaged baked goods, canned fruits and soda. The simple carbohydrates in these foods readily break down and release massive amounts of sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream. In the short term, we know that sugar compromises the immune system.
Bad nutrition causes a decline in immune function and increases susceptibility to infection. Specific nutrients play important roles in supporting immune system balance.
A deficiency of any of these nutrients can negatively affect the function of the immune system: zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, B vitamins (especially folic acid), iron, copper, amino acids L-lysine and L-arginine, vitamin C and vitamin E. Correct choices of supplements—vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, probiotics and botanicals—support the immune system and help reduce the risk of disease.
Mind your mental health
Psychological health influences the immune system and the course of many diseases. Under conditions of excessive stress, cortisol is released by the adrenals when a sudden burst of energy is needed, but unrelenting stress causes it to spike unnecessarily. Prolonged elevation of cortisol is inflammatory to the body and suppresses immune function.
Bad sleep habits disrupt cortisol production in the body, affecting our natural circadian rhythm. Depressive states, stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation increase levels of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the blood, which can compromise or suppress the immune system.
How can salt therapy help during cold and flu season?
Salt therapy is performed in a special spa-like room with salt-coated walls and floor, called a halochamber. Pharmaceutical-grade salt is pulverized into microscopic particles and propelled into the room. Salt therapy involves lounging in a cozy room and passively breathing in the particles while listening to soothing music, reading or just relaxing in a zero-gravity chair. Children can play with toys in the salt, like sand at the beach.
The salt particles enter the lungs and nasal passages, accelerating mucus clearance, reducing nasal and chest congestion, killing harmful bacteria and soothing the respiratory system. This 100% drug-free treatment is effective and has no side effects.
Clinical studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2006) observe: “Inhalation of hypertonic saline produces a sustained acceleration of mucus clearance and improved lung function. This treatment may protect the lung from insults that reduce mucus clearance and reduce lung disease.”
Salt therapy may also increase the effectiveness of conventional treatment by cleansing the airways and decreasing inflammation, which helps medications work more effectively and also reduces the need for them. Salt therapy is completely safe for everyone—from babies to geriatric patients—and helps reduce the risk of ear and sinus infections.
Salt therapy also has a relaxing effect on the nervous system and promotes an overall feeling of wellbeing.
Is salt therapy safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Ask your salt therapy provider about the social distancing available at their location or if you may schedule a session which seats your group alone. While in session, you’ll be wearing sterile surgical booties.
Salt rooms are kept clean with fresh air supplied by HEPA air filters that capture and remove up to 99.97 percent of airborne particles while activated carbon filters remove volatile organic compounds. After each session, the air is drawn out of the room and clean air filtered back in. A UV light is turned on, which kills 98.8 percent of bacteria and viruses on the surfaces. Any children’s toys are then wiped down with disinfectant.
At a time when health is foremost on our minds, it’s nice to know that there are some things you can do to support your immune system through cold and flu season.
Salt Therapy Provides Relief from Symptoms of:
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Ear Infections
- Multi-Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome
- Respiratory Infections
- Sinus Infections
Joseph Cannizzaro, MD has been practicing pediatrics in Central Florida for over 40 years and is medical director of The Salt Room Longwood, located in his practice. As a classically trained primary care physician who practices functional integrative medicine, Dr. Cannizzaro believes that integrative medicine can bring conventional and complementary healing modalities together, creating a highly personalized and high-touch healing environment. Call the Cannizzaro Integrative Pediatric Center at 321-280-5867 for a meet and greet or 407-862-1163 to book a session at The Salt Room® Longwood.