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Issue 159: Cold Risks

Cold Risks

Most of us have had a bad cold or the flu that makes us feel miserable. Well, now it’s not just a feeling that you’re at less than your best with a cold or the flu; it’s a documented result of a study that you really aren't functioning at 100 percent. In fact, a UK-based insurance company found that driving with a bad cold or the flu is the equivalent of driving after throwing back four double whiskeys!

No wonder a nasty cold or the flu makes us feel out of sorts, to say the least. The study found that the cold- or flu-suffering drivers had loss of concentration, slower reaction times, more frequent sudden braking as well as decreased awareness of surrounding traffic. Additionally, those driving with a severe cold or the flu were also one-third more likely to hit a roadside curb.

That’s not all, though.

You know those big sneezes—the ones during which you close your eyes for only moments? Those can cause problems, too, says police officer Steve Rounds of the Central Motorway Police Group in a press release. Rounds says, “Sneezing can be very violent, especially with a severe cold, and causes the sufferer to close their eyes temporarily.”

Believe it or not, the implications can run even deeper than dealing with an annoying cold or flu. Officers say that sneezing and coughing while driving can lead to motorists losing control of their vehicles and cause them to face prosecution for dangerous driving. “Commencing a journey in such a state would certainly be irresponsible and could be held as an aggravating factor in any accident that led to a death or serious injury, turning a careless act into a dangerous one and thereby exposing the driver to a charge of causing death by dangerous driving,” adds Officer Rounds.

This could be a more widespread problem than thought, too. Research indicates that at any given time during the cold and flu season, that more than one in five motorists suffer from colds that leave them with frequent bouts of sneezing. Grabbing for a tissue can bring its own version of calamity, too. Many drivers—2.4 million in one study—admit to looking away from the road while searching for a tissue. Sneezing and looking away from the road for a tissue can leave people “driving blind,” notes the study.

Then there’s the over-the-counter meds that some folks take to combat the cold and flu. Many of those can make you drowsy or have other side effects, so they can be problematic for those behind the wheel, too.

So much for the idea that having a cold or the flu merely seems to make us feel “off.” It can actually be downright dangerous. That’s why, especially during cold and flu season, you’ll want to keep your immunity strong—starting with your diet.

To ensure a balanced immune system with healthy immune cells and molecules, include healthy proteins, antioxidants, probiotics, enzymes, essential fatty acids and certain vitamins and minerals. Healthy proteins, for example, are required for adequate numbers of immune cells and for those cells to function properly by making antibodies and other immune system components. Vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins are all essential for healthy immune cells as are the minerals zinc, folic acid, iron, copper, selenium and manganese.

Keep your immune system strong this season—and while you’re at it, be aware of those cold and flu risks if you’re behind the wheel!


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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