Study: The Common Cold Kills Flu. What About Coronavirus?
Pharmaceutical companies are hard at work trying to repurpose drugs, formulate new ones, and win the race to develop and test a new immunization for COVID-19. What about fighting fire with fire?
A study out of Yale University found that the common cold prevented people from getting the flu. They found that rhinovirus, the virus that causes cold symptoms, fires up the body’s defenses against viruses in general, which prevents influenza from taking hold.
The researchers confirmed this mechanism by testing the interaction between rhinovirus and influenza in a laboratory setting. They used stem cells to create human airway tissue and found that once the tissues were exposed to rhinovirus, influenza cells could not infect the tissue. They found that antiviral defenses remained “switched on” for at least five days.
These findings could help explain why a projected escalation in cases of the 2009 swine flu never happened. Epidemiologists expected an influx of cases during a certain period of cold and flu season, but numbers didn’t climb as they’d predicted.
Now, scientists are wondering whether we can expect a similar interaction between rhinovirus and COVID-19. The same researchers are currently conducting the same experiment using the COVID-19 virus instead of influenza pathogens.
What Cold Season Could Do to the Pandemic
Researchers are hopeful that as rhinovirus picks up, we could see a drop in coronavirus cases. That would be incredible news for hospitals, especially hospitals in populated areas that are concerned with the possibility of overwhelm. In some areas, coronavirus cases stacking on top of the normal course of seasonal influenza could spell disaster for hospital staff and resources.
It’s hard to know for sure how the two viruses interact. Our bodies know what to do with rhinovirus. Our viral defenses switching on in response to rhinovirus may or may not have an effect on COVID-19, being a novel coronavirus. Humans are still in the process of adapting to its presence, and our immune systems have to learn to recognize it.
The hope is that our bodies recognize COVID-19 as a virus, whether our airways are primed with rhinovirus or not, and fight it off accordingly.
How to Get Ready for Cold and Flu Season
Pandemic or not, cold and flu season is on the horizon, and you probably want to avoid getting sick from any type of virus. Here’s what to do to boost your body’s defenses, any time of year.
If you haven’t done it already, there’s no better time than now. Sugar not only weakens your body’s natural defenses, but it can also make illnesses you do contract worse. If you don’t eliminate it completely, even reducing your sugar consumption can make a difference.
Consider antiviral mushrooms.
Some mushrooms can enhance your cooking, others not so much. Read up on antiviral mushrooms and how to use them here.
Get your sleep in order.
Improving your sleep quality will do more for your immune system than you could ever imagine. Here are some tips for a better night’s sleep.
Love your microbiome.
The friendly microbes in your gut make up a large percentage of your immune system. Here’s how to improve your gut for better immunity.
Read more info on strengthening your immune system here.
Steps like these won’t shield you from everything out there, but the goal is to start every day better than we were yesterday. Assess where you are now, and do something to make yourself stronger every single day. You may find that you get sick less, or you may find that you have more energy and get more done. Either way, when you take steps toward your health, you win.