Cold and flu season is upon us. Not to mention, the lingering COVID-19 pandemic that is hanging over us as well. Every Fall, the mingling of school kids and holiday gatherings causes the flu and cold to spread like wildfire. This year brings on even more anxiety/stress to parents and individuals. We are heading into a rough season, so it’s more important than ever to know what to expect, and what to do, to protect your health. 


You’ll want to focus on optimizing your immune function so that you can first prevent getting sick, and second, reduce the symptoms if you do catch a cold or flu. Let’s enter the season in our best health, so we don’t have a box of tissues beside us as Netflix asks, “are you still watching?”. 


According to the CDC, between 9.3 million and 49 million illnesses have resulted because of the flu, and over 62 million illnesses from the common cold. Even though we are used to these illnesses each year, this year we may all be a little more anxious anytime we get the sniffles or cough. We might ask ourselves, “is this COVID or just a cold? Should I get tested?”.


What is the Common Cold?

The common cold is a viral, upper respiratory tract infection of your nose and throat. You can experience sneezing, scratchy and sore throat, and congestion and/or runny nose. While it can be annoying, and painful, it’s a pretty harmless virus that you just have to ride out. Unlike the flu, the common cold can be caused by a number of viruses. Symptoms may last around 2 weeks, however, there are things you can do to help manage your symptoms and reduce the number of sick days.


What is the Flu?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that attack the lungs, nose, and throat. While some immunocompromised people like older adults, pregnant women, and children, experience intense sickness, severe cases can even result in death. 

With the flu, you may experience:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Congestion
  • Runny Nose
  • Cough
  • Muscle Aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue


Just like with the common cold, resting your body and allowing your immune system to fight the infection is the best thing to do. This is why it’s so important to have your immune system working as optimally as possible!


How Do I Know If I Have The Cold, Flu, Or COVID?

The common cold, flu, seasonal allergies, and even COVD, can have some similar symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat and cough. COVID, however, can have other symptoms including loss of smell, dry cough, fever, and more serious symptoms, such as shortness of breath.


Why We Will See An Increase In The Next Few Months

We’ve all been cooped up inside our homes (or limiting our outings) for the past couple of months… or more like half of the year now! 


But now, it seems as though people are ready for normal life. Kids are going back to school and daycare, sporting events, and families are gathering.  What else will be making an appearance soon? Our immune response. 


People Are More Immunocompromised Than Ever

  • People have stayed away from germs because of social distancing and overuse of hand sanitizer
  • Families are grabbing for the quick meal options, because it’s been hard juggling the little ones at home and making every meal of the day. Usually, these are processed meals or ordering out. These foods definitely don’t help out your immune system!
  • People are exercising less
  • They aren’t getting in the sun, so they could have a vitamin D deficiency, which impacts the immune system.
  • More stress is upon us, as we are trying to manage EVERYTHING!
  • Gut health is not a priority like it should be


What Should You Do? Boost Your Immune System!

While everyone can’t hide away forever and live in fear, there are things we can do to help keep ourselves and our friends/family safe, while we minimize the spread of sickness. 


If you keep yourself healthy by boosting your immune system, you won’t be coughing, sneezing, and enhancing the spread of the flu, cold, or even virus. If your immune response is working optimally, you’ll be more confident going through this fall without catching every little bug that comes your way. 


If you spend your energy and time boosting your immune system, you won’t have as many COVID scares this Fall. And who wouldn’t want to avoid having to keep your kiddos from daycare and having to wait for swab results to come back… just to say it’s the common cold! 


You can read our previous blog on how to boost your immune system here. But here is a brief outline for you to save you time. 


If you want to boost your immune system, and you live near Kansas City, In2GREAT Functional Medicine clinic can help you. They can help optimize your immune system so that you can stay healthy this Fall. Give them a call at  (913) 308-0167 to schedule an appointment.

Dr Corey Priest, DC - Functional medicine practitioner

About the author

Dr. Corey Priest has been practicing functional medicine since 2001. in2GREAT was founded in 2014 by Dr Priest after 13 years of experience with his other practices. Over his career, Dr. Priest has worked with and helped well over 10,000 patients under a functional medicine model.

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