The peak cold and flu season typically occurs during the winter months. Several experts are expressing concerns about the 2023 winter season, suggesting that it could pose significant challenges.

According to certain medical professionals, the likelihood of contracting a viral infection this year may be higher than usual. This increased risk can be attributed to the reduced levels of virus exposure in recent years due to pandemic restrictions. As a result, our immunity against common viruses has diminished.

As social interactions and mingling become more normal again, our chances of being exposed to viruses also rise. Additionally, fewer individuals have been receiving vaccinations against common winter illnesses such as the flu.

As we approach the winter season, it is important to take proactive measures to safeguard our health and well-being.

Cold and flu

What are the common winter bugs?

Based on infectious diseases surveillance data, various viruses circulate during the winter months. These include:

• Common Colds: A viral infection that affects the nose and throat.

• Influenza: A viral infection that primarily targets the respiratory system.

• Other flu-like viruses: Examples include RSV, adenovirus, and parainfluenza virus. Symptoms may vary but often include fever, cough, sore throat, congestion, and fatigue.

• COVID-19: Experts suggest that COVID-19 might become a seasonal virus.

Here are some recommended tips from healthcare professionals to maintain good health during the winter season:

There are at least ten simple ways to safeguard against cold and flu viruses and enhance the resilience of our immune systems:

1. Stay up to date with vaccinations

Keeping up with vaccinations is an effective way to safeguard your health during the winter season. There are two primary vaccines to consider:

• Influenza vaccine: It is advisable for individuals aged 6 months and older to receive the flu shot, which provides protection against severe flu-related illnesses. Since the strains of flu viruses change each year, it is necessary to get vaccinated annually.

• COVID vaccine booster: If you are 65 years or older, or between the ages of 18 and 64 with underlying health conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19, and if your last vaccine dose or confirmed infection was six months ago or more, it is recommended to get a COVID vaccine booster.

Individuals over the age of 70 or those with significant health issues may also benefit from the pneumococcal vaccine. This immunisation helps prevent conditions such as pneumonia and meningitis.

2. Ensure sufficient sleep

Maintaining an appropriate sleep schedule is crucial for enhancing our general health and well-being.

3. Engage in physical activity

Regular exercise serves as an excellent method to boost your immune system, in addition to its numerous other advantages. Aim to incorporate a 15-20 minute walk into your daily routine.

4. Adopt a nutritious diet

To provide your body with immune-strengthening macronutrients and micronutrients, focus on consuming abundant nutrient-dense leafy greens, vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.

Cold and flu Australia

5. Manage stress levels

Excessive stress can weaken the immune system. Counterbalance stress by engaging in mindful breathing exercises, practicing yoga, or participating in gentle exercise.

6. Stay home if unwell

When you are feeling ill, it is advisable to limit your interactions with others. This precaution helps minimise the transmission of germs and viruses within the community. It also allows you to rest adequately and recover more swiftly.

7. Practice good hand hygiene

Maintain regular hand washing with soap and water, including before and after meals, as well as after using the restroom. When outside, use hand sanitiser. Remember to cover your coughs and sneezes, and promptly dispose of used tissues.

8. Use a face mask

If you are experiencing symptoms of illness, it is advisable to wear a mask, especially in enclosed spaces. This practice can help safeguard the individuals around you, particularly those who are more susceptible to viruses.

Given the lingering caution stemming from the pandemic, it is encouraging to observe that many people are continuing to wear masks when they are unwell. This responsible behavior contributes to the overall well-being of the community.

Medical certificate

9. Consult a healthcare professional if symptoms deteriorate

Many common winter illnesses can be effectively managed at home through rest, hydration, and nutritious food.

However, it is important to be aware that there are instances when seeking in-person medical assistance is necessary. If you experience any of the following signs, it is recommended to consult a doctor:

  • Frequent vomiting
  • Inability to consume fluids
  • Severe headache
  • Paleness and excessive sleepiness
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rash accompanied by fever
  • Neck stiffness
  • Sensitivity to light in the eyes

By implementing these practical tips and maintaining a proactive approach to our health, we can increase our chances of staying well and thriving throughout the winter months.