The flu is not just ‘in the air’ during the winter months as outbreaks can happen at any time. However, this particular illness is more prevalent throughout the colder months of winter. There are a number of explanations for this. Flu is caused by the influenza virus, which enters our body through our noses by clinging onto mucus. The colder air of winter makes your nose colder, and essentially slows down its ability to get rid of mucus efficiently. Therefore, the virus is more likely to infiltrate the body. In addition, cold air decreases the activity of phagocytes – the white blood cells that fight off disease and illness in your body.
The lack of vitamin D in the autumn and winter months also makes us more prone to catching the flu. Shorter, cloudier and darker days means we are exposed to less sunlight which weakens the immune system.
In the winter months it’s typical that people spend more time indoors. As a consequence, it’s more than likely that you’ll be in contact with someone carrying germs. Coupled with less ventilation and having the heating on means the air inside retains more germs as there is nowhere for them to escape too. A frightening example of this is the London Underground, with thousands of commuters packed into carriages. The tube is typically 10 degrees warmer than the outside air, and never gets any proper ventilation!
With all of these factors considered, it is easy to see why people get the flu during the winter.
Symptoms can develop very quickly and include:
Overall, symptoms of flu and colds are quite similar. However, the main difference is that flu is far more severe than a cold. While a cold might make you feel unwell, you would still be able to go into work with a cold. This is not the case with the flu, as it will most likely leave you too unwell.
Whilst the symptoms of flu develop quickly, those of a common cold are more gradual. It is likely that if you only have a sore throat and a blocked nose, it’s a common cold. Whereas, when the symptoms start to affect your body as a whole, then it is more likely that you have the flu.
Around this time of year, when we are more prone to developing the virus, it is important to keep clean. More specifically, we suggest that you wash your hands frequently. Make sure to wash your hands with hot, soapy water for 15 seconds – especially after you cough or sneeze. By doing this, you rid yourself of the germs on your hands, and prevent these germs from spreading. If you notice that someone is developing flu symptoms, whether it be a work colleague or a family member, make sure to avoid close contact with them to prevent their germs spreading to you.
The best course of action you can take in preventing flu is to get a jab – especially if you are more prone to developing the virus than others. This includes those aged 65 or over, pregnant women, and those with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems. Vaccinations are used to protect against the viruses that are believed to be most common during the winter season; and this includes influenza. If you really want to improve your chances of not catching the flu, then getting a jab is your best option.
At Qured, we offer the quadrivalent flu vaccination privately, all across Central London. One of our trained medical professionals will come to your home, hotel or place of work and perform the vaccination – helping you fight off the pesky symptoms of flu that are more common than ever during this winter period. We also offer workplace vaccinations, which can help to prevent the spread of flu, keeping your employees healthy and happy.