With the rapid changing of temperature outside, the ever popular "Flu Season" is upon us. You may or may not have heard the recent buzz, but I challenge you to consider this:
Let's break down this little sticky note with a big message. The "flu" is an infection, we can get it at anytime. College students may know this scenario well, for example. After a long week of finals an otherwise healthy 20-something falls ill over their break from school, which only half the time falls during classic "flu" season time. Why do we still get sick in the summer? It's because an infection causes the flu, not a time of year.
We are most susceptible to the flu during the colder months. Why?
A lot of factors gather together as we gather with our families to create the perfect sniffly, scratchy-throat, congested, sore-all-over storm.
Our exposure to sunlight dramatically decreases come fall/winter. The sun is out for shorter periods of time, and combining that with wanting to be indoors to avoid the cold, our opportunity for sunlight to create Vitamin D in us plummets. (See our post about the importance of Vitamin D to the immune system.) Water intake also decreases since we don't feel as hot and sweaty, we don't seem to feel as thirsty.
Then we have increased sugar intake. Is it enough to just mention Thanksgiving dinner (ahem, dessert), Pumpkin Spice Lattes, office holiday parties, ginger bread men, candy canes, late night Christmas cookies... I could go on and on. Our intake of sugar sky-rockets during the holiday season compared to our already-high levels. Sugar is a pro-inflammatory substance that attacks the body and keeps the immune system fighting it rather than the important things (like an infection from a flu-bug).
The final piece of our sugary-sweet, flu-inducing pie is the amount of stress we are under during the holidays. Whether it's from family, money-induced, decreased sleep, or travel, stress attacks our immune system as hard as anything else. Again, when the body is busy fighting inflammation from foods we eat or elevated stress levels, it is too tired to fight anything else off.
I hope this puts together a complete picture of why the flu is more or less self induced, from us not properly fortifying our own immune systems. Learn how our doctors and the services we offer can help you fight the flu this year and enjoy the season, not your tissue-covered bed!