Q: What is the difference between a common cold and influenza?
Marla Ahlgrimm: The flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses and usually comes on suddenly. Symptoms include fever and chills, cough, body aches, fatigue, and headaches. Common cold symptoms are less severe and include stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and coughing.
Q: What is one of the biggest mistakes people make during flu season?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Not washing their hands. Keeping the hands clean is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infections.
Q: When should I pay special attention to washing my hands?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Any time you’ve been out in public, touching doorknobs; after you use the bathroom; anytime before and after you eat, and before or after you touch a computer keyboard.
Q: Can diet help avoid the flu?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Unhealthy diets that are low in protein or contain too many processed foods will lack the nutrients necessary to maintain a healthy immune system, making a person more vulnerable to getting the flu.
Q: Are there certain foods that help fight the flu?
Marla Ahlgrimm: There is no guarantee that eating certain foods will fend off infection, but research has shown that an immune response to infection can be enhanced with good nutrition. Foods like broccoli, red peppers, tea, sweet potatoes, and garlic are known to be immune-boosting. Almost any fruit or vegetable is a good choice, too.
Q: Besides eating healthy, what else can people do to prevent the flu?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Sleep deprivation can influence the symptoms of a cold. It’s best to go to bed and wake up on a regular schedule. Keeping fit, reducing your stress level, and drinking plenty of water will boost the immune system.