DR JEFF FOSTER is The Sun on Sunday’s new resident doctor and is here to help YOU.
Dr Jeff, 43, splits his time between working as a GP in Leamington Spa, Warks, and running his clinic, H3 Health, which is the first of its kind in the UK to look at hormonal issues for both men and women.
Q) IS there a way to keep the common cold at bay? Every winter I get a really bad cold that seems to last weeks.
I’m 50 and eat plenty of fruit and veg but is there anything else I can do?
Elsie Reeves, Hastings, East Sussex
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A) The honest answer is no. It is very hard to eat or supplement your way towards better immunity. Health food shops may suggest otherwise, but there isn’t much evidence that superdosing on vitamins will stop you getting a cold.
If you are deficient in something, then replacing a missing vitamin or mineral can make the world of difference, and this is certainly the case with vitamin D, which is now recommended as a supplement for everyone during winter. But in general, what you eat does not alter your risk of getting a cold.
Providing there is no underlying medical cause for you to have a weaker immune system, the main reason we struggle more with a cold is simple exposure. Our immune systems do well when exposed to mild illnesses and in most cases can fight off the bugs in about ten to 14 days.
There is a common misconception that we should be better in three or four days, but this doesn’t give us time to generate an immune response and build up antibodies.
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A 50-year-old’s immune system is a bit slower than it once was, and if you combine this with only being exposed to the cold virus maybe once a year or so, you lose your immunity, and it takes another ten to 14 days to rebuild it. Then you’re well again – until next year.
Q) WHILE I had Covid in August I couldn’t sleep at all, even though I had never had a problem with sleeping before. Three months later, my sleep still hasn’t improved.
I can’t fall asleep at night, even though I’m tired, and I find myself getting anxious about it as soon as night-time approaches. Any suggestions on how I can get back to normal?
Stephen Quinn, Sunderland
A) We are a society that obsesses about the importance of sleep.
Everything we hear is about how important it is – which is detrimental to people with insomnia because, as the hours tick by, the feeling of pressure around lack of sleep makes it even more difficult to doze off.
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Covid has seen a range of unusual hormonal and/or neurological complications, but the virus itself is unlikely to be the cause of your sleep problems.
The answer is more likely that being ill broke your usual sleep cycle and you need to get back to a repetitive routine to optimise your sleep again.