Cold and flu season is here again. While we relax with our pumpkin spice lattes and enjoy the changing of the leaves, we all know it’s around the corner. The time of year when you can’t move for people sneezing, plans being cancelled at the last minute and waking up feeling horrific. Autumn and winter may have their blessings, but they also have their downside – and it has a curious side effect also.
While regularly grouped together, a cold and the flu are vastly different things. There is a tendency for people to blame a nasty cold on flu, despite the fact they have little in common. The flu is not characterised by the blocked nose and stuffiness of the common cold, but more by exhaustion and fever.
So why do we group them? Why are we marketed to as if they are the same thing? It could be because of that most irritating of phrases: “just a cold”. As in, it’s just a cold! It’s not that bad!
It’s worth noting that the people trotting out this lie usually do not have an active cold. They are tapping into memories of past colds, but distance has allowed them to forget.
Reasons “Just A Cold” Is An Evil Phrase:
The cold makes you feel horrific. Your nose is blocked, so, fine, you’ll breathe through your mouth right? Except your throat feels like it’s on fire. Congrats, something as commonplace as breathing is now a nightmare.
- You inevitably end up chafing your nose from all the wiping.
- You run a fever and feel terrible. No one is at their best during a cold.
- No one actually gives you enough credit for feeling terrible and carrying on.
- The phrase diminishes the fact that “just a cold” is still a very unpleasant experience.
So, if you have “just a cold”, don’t berate yourself for feeling miserable! They might be relatively commonplace, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to handle.
How Can I Prevent A Cold Coming On, Then?
So you’ve accepted that the cold is a nasty affliction that it’s okay to feel miserable about – anything you can do to prevent them?
Nope. Not really. Sorry.
What we refer to as “the cold” is actually a collection of many similar but different viruses. When we have had one, we become immune to it – but we can pick up another strain. The only way to have any control on this is to practice good hygiene.
- Don’t touch the door handles of bars, restaurants and other public places during cold season.
- It’s tough in winter, but try to ventilate your home with the likes of a 20x20x5 air filter to help clear the air of any lurking nasties.
- Avoid those you know are unwell, in case errant sneezes send the bug your way.
But… What About Vitamin C?
Ah, we have been led to believe a good dose of vitamin C can prevent colds. It can’t. In fact, “strengthening your immune system” to help with a cold is bizarre. The symptoms a cold brings – bunged nose, sore throat – are your immune system trying to cope with the virus rather than the virus itself. There are a plethora of reasons to take Vitamin C, but preventing a cold isn’t one of them.