Tackle Lurking Fall-Winter Illnesses With a Strong Immune System

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Riin Rehemaa
Social Media & Community Manager

Our beautiful Estonian summer has come to an end. Autumn is bringing cooler weather, falling leaves and heightened numbers of health issues. You might be wondering why we are suddenly so much more vulnerable to viruses.

With cooler temperatures, kids going back to school, and busier schedules – this can all lead to more stress, too little sleep, and poor eating habits. Stress produces cortisol which attacks your natural defense mechanism and can lead to illnesses.

All that can take a toll on your immune system which makes you more open to different health issues. And let’s be honest, opening a sick leave in the first weeks of work or school is not an ideal solution for anyone.

Common fall illnesses

We know that autumn and winter are not the only seasons that illnesses spread, we can catch a virus all year round. But the transmission of certain infections is at the highest levels during the autumn/winter months. Most of these viruses and health issues are easily managed and the majority of people recover from them within a few weeks. But for some, these can lead to more serious outcomes, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. In that case, private healthcare providers will have to be involved.

Due to rain, temperature drops and lack of sunlight that come along with the colder seasons in Estonia, our immune system’s performance lowers. This makes us more open to different health problems. Let’s look at the most common autumn/winter illnesses.

1. Common cold

Sniffles, throat ache and cough – we have all been there and know how easy it is to catch a cold during colder temperatures. This illness can affect anyone and is definitely a very unpleasant and draining process to overcome. Thankfully most cold cases are manageable at home and rarely need more serious medical intervention. You can usually treat yourself with over-the-counter medicines, the dosage and need of which can be specified by a doctor or pharmacist.

The best way to be protected from the common cold is to practice good hygiene (wash your hands), make sure to get quality rest and eat a colourful, healthy diet. Taking care of our bodies and dressing according to the weather are the best ways to prevent this illness.

2. Coronavirus

We are all aware of the dangers of the COVID-19, coronavirus. It can be easily spread between people who are in close contact. This is a virus that can take a toll on every part of your health and can be hard to overcome. The best ways to prevent it are good hygiene, healthy diet and wearing a mask in public places.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are cough, exhaustion and fever. But keep in mind that there are many other signs that can point to coronavirus, like difficulty breathing or loss of taste. If you think you might have it, it is best to minimize contact with other people, get tested at home and communicate with your primary healthcare provider and follow their directions. If you don’t have health insurance Estonia but you are in need of help then Salu is the solution for you – providing necessary help to tackle the virus.

3. Flu

Flu is a virus that can show up in many different variations but the most common symptoms are fever, cough, and sore throat. They are very similar to COVID-19 signs, so a test is important to be taken. The flu vaccine, good hygiene, quality sleep, and diet are the best ways to protect yourself from this virus.

Since the flu and the coronavirus are both respiratory viruses, having one makes you more vulnerable to getting the other one right after. It’s important to get proper care for the flu because untreated, it can turn into an even more serious illness, like bronchitis or pneumonia. If your symptoms don’t improve over time or are getting worse, it’s important to contact a healthcare provider who can give you the proper information and help.

It is worth knowing that vaccination is a good prevention for both viruses. After vaccination, there is a significantly smaller chance of getting infected, or even if you do get it, it will be in a milder form, so vaccination definitely protects you from bigger harm.

Habits that boost the immune system

Thankfully, there are ways to strengthen your immune system during the autumn/winter seasons and protect yourself from different viruses and illnesses. Taking good care of yourself and being prepared ahead is the key! Setting up health insurance, getting a family doctor in Estonia while putting effort into things that you can personally.

Mixing healthy lifestyle habits with immune-boosting supplements and you are looking at a strong defence system. What are some of them that we can be mindful of and adapt to our daily lives?

1. Practicing good hygiene

A simple act, like washing your hands, can save you from many unpleasant health issues. Lots of viruses spread through direct contact with a sick person or touching things that have been exposed to the virus prior. It’s important to practice good hygiene to protect yourself from these germs. Simple soap and water will do the trick!

2. Healthy movement

We all know that moving ourselves is good for our mind, spirit and body. But it’s also good for our immune system. Consistent exercise boosts the circulation of pathogen-fighting white blood cells and brings down inflammation in the body. That means that illnesses are less likely to develop because the body’s natural protection is heightened. Exercise also produces endorphins which help lower our stress levels. A happier body and mind leads to an even stronger immune system.

3. Vitamins and minerals

Eating a well-balanced diet is key to our health. We are what we eat. Your food should have a variety of vitamins and minerals that support your body’s natural immune system and its protection. Choosing fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to start.
But during the fall/winter season our bodies might need a bit of an extra boost. Adding supplements to your daily regime is a good way to make your body less prone to illness. For example, all of us in Estonia have a big deficit of sunlight, so don’t forget to take extra vitamin D. It is necessary to take it from September to May for children and adults alike.

We advise you to talk your supplement choices through with your primary physician to make sure you are getting the right options for your needs.

4. Quality rest

Sleep is vital to our overall health and well-being. Inadequate sleep can compromise our immune system and make us more vulnerable to different viruses. People who are lacking sleep develop fewer antibodies and are more likely to have chronic inflammation. You are more likely to get sick while experiencing stress, which poor sleep can lead to. Stress causes higher levels of cortisol which ages immune cells faster. An unhealthy immune system leads to health issues. All people are different, and so are their rest and sleep needs. But on average, it is recommended to get at least 8 hours of sleep every day.

These are some of the ways you can boost your immune system while stepping into the autumn/fall seasons. Being prepared and helping your body adapt to environmental changes will help you tackle viruses and other health issues.

Also, be prepared and find the right primary healthcare provider for yourself and your family ahead of time. We know that getting a family doctor in Estonia can be very challenging, especially during the autumn/winter season in. Salu is here to help you out. Providing all the same services and help that a regular physician offers, from food intolerance test to tackling the coronavirus. Remember to always consult with your doctor to get the best advice that is most fitting for your health!

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