As the cooler months roll in, if you have asthma or COPD it’s a good time to focus on keeping your immune system fighting fit. Here are a few useful tips to help you power through the cold and flu season.
The annual influenza vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent you from catching the flu. It’s quick, affordable and readily available. Even if it doesn’t offer a 100 per cent guarantee that you won’t get sick this season, it certainly lowers the odds of a severe infection.
Since people with asthma and COPD are more likely to suffer from exacerbations if they come down with a virus, getting this straightforward jab seems like a no-brainer to add to your immune-boosting arsenal.
The end of those hot summer days need not be cause to go into hibernation! For many, it’s the perfect time of year for getting outdoors and enjoying the crisper, cooler weather.
In any season, exercise is crucial for keeping your lungs in shape. But especially during the winter months, fitness is one of the best things you can do to avoid the infection.
An active body is a healthy one – and if you have asthma or COPD, your lungs are a big part of this equation. So breathe in that fresh air and give those nasty bugs a run for their money!
Being advised to eat well, sleep well and generally look after yourself may not seem like a revelation, but in colder months it can be easier said than done. Sleep is especially important for anyone with allergies or other inflammatory conditions because it has a direct effect on our immune health.
When we power down, our immune system powers up, calming inflammation and enabling T-cells to circulate in our lymphatic system. These little warriors play a frontline immunological role, taking down any cells that have become infected by germs or viruses.
So, especially in the dark and drowsy months, remember to be kind to yourself and take that downtime whenever you can get it.
Preventing infection can be as simple as washing your hands. A quick 15-20 second scrub is the easiest and most effective way to prevent the spread of infection. Washing your hands will remove most of the casual nasties you may have picked up from door handles, keyboards or other surfaces.
If you’re operating in a “high risk” zone – like changing nappies or working in hospitality or health care – scrubbing for a couple of minutes before you eat, after you use the bathroom and either side of physical contact with others will do the job.
Even if your immune system is in great shape, you’ll be your own best friend if you minimise the battles it has to fight for you!
Vitamin D insufficiency has been linked with susceptibility to infection, and in particular, respiratory infections. This means that people with asthma or COPD have an added incentive to make sure they’re getting enough of it.
While the body naturally produces Vitamin D in response to sunlight, many people, particularly in northern European countries, struggle to get enough winter sun to generate sufficient levels.
Thankfully, supplements are affordable and available over the counter. It’s a good habit to start taking them a couple of months before the darker days hit.
By Sarah Hudson
Photo by iStock
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, (2014), Research review: Influenza Vaccination in Asthmatic Patients: Is there Benefit? Published April 2014. https://www.aaaai.org/global/latest-research-summaries/Current-JACI-Research/influenza-vaccination-asthma
Luciana Besedovsky, Tanja Lange and Jan Born, (2012), Sleep and immune function, Pflugers Arch. 2012 Jan; 463(1): 121–137. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/
Jefferson T, Del Mar CB, Dooley L, Ferroni E, Al‐Ansary LA, Bawazeer GA, van Driel ML, Nair S, Jones MA, Thorning S, Conly JM, (2011), Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD006207. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006207.pub4. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006207.pub4/abstract
Nancy E Lange, Augusto Litonjua, Catherine M Hawrylowicz, and Scott Weiss, (2009), Vitamin D, the immune system and asthma, Expert Rev Clin Immunol, 5(6): 693–702. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812815/
Orion invests in research and development of treatment options for people with asthma and COPD while also developing the design and usability of the Easyhaler® inhaler device platform. The focus is on safety and quality in each step of the product life cycle while taking care of the environment. All aspects of sustainability - social, economic and environmental - are carefully considered in the whole product life cycle. Sustainability is entwined in the whole process from R&D through manufacturing, including patient use and the disposal of old inhalers.