According to the surveillance bulletin published today by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, the incidence of record flu is decreasing but remains high, so the rapid change in temperatures, expected in the next few days in our country, worries experts about the risk of a tailwind of the virus is greater in the older groups of the population and among those who have not followed an adequate period of convalescence after the resolution of acute flu symptoms.
by Donatella Zorzetto
Drop in temperatures and immune defenses
The cold exposes you to the risk of a weakening of your immune defenses and it is therefore essential not to let your guard down for a few more weeks because the virus can strike unexpectedly. In fact, “falling temperatures can influence the immune response triggered by the entry of bacteria and viruses into the nose – Francesco Landi, director of the Aging Sciences Department – Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Agostino Gemelli IRCCS, past president of the Italian Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics (SIGG) -. The airways protect themselves by releasing billions of tiny fluid-filled sacs into the mucus, called extracellular vesicles, which surround and attack “intruders” before they enter the body. However, a reduction of 5 degrees in the internal temperature of the nasal mucosa is sufficient to knock out and halve the first line of immune defenses that are implemented in the nose.”
This is what emerged from a study recently published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology by researchers from Harvard Medical School and Northeastern University who verified how a 5-degree lowering of the temperature of the internal tissues of the nose, largely dependent on the temperature of the Inhaled external air causes an attenuated immune response with a 42% reduction in extracellular vesicles secreted by nasal cells when they perceive the presence of a pathogen.
The risk of circulation of the virus as a result of this meteorological variation appears even more evident when there is a rapid decrease in temperature, such as that expected in our country with a drop of 10-15 degrees by Sunday. This is what emerges from a recent study published in the journal Open Forum of Infectious Diseases of the American Society of Infectious Diseases which monitored the trend of influenza in Japan from 2012 to 2021, verifying the association of a greater spread of the virus in the weeks in which the changes in temperatures were more sudden.
by Anna Lisa Bonfranceschi
The elderly and frail are at risk
“The most exposed people are above all those belonging to the older groups of the population, among whom the levels of vaccination coverage have remained far from the minimum desirable limits, and those who have not followed an adequate convalescence, not dedicating the right amount of time to recover their strength after the virus – he underlines Andrea Ungar, president of SIGG and professor of geriatrics at the University of Florence -. The rush to get back on track can compromise recovery, increasing the risk of relapses since after the flu, the respiratory system is in a more fragile condition and therefore it is easier to get sick again”.
What to do
“To defend yourself it is still useful to get vaccinated and it is important to protect the nose to try to maintain a higher temperature of the upper respiratory tract, using appropriate clothing for example with the use of scarves or masks in those most at risk. Also important are a healthy and balanced diet and regular physical activity, associated with specific supplements, but always indicated by your doctor, who will be able to suggest the right supplement, in the right dosage, based on your state of health – he warns Landi, among the authors of a review on the topic, recently published in the journal Clinics in Geriatric Medicine -. It can be of great help to take a mix of arginine and vitamin C daily. Arginine is an amino acid produced naturally by the body, which stimulates nitric oxide, a key enzyme for correct immune and vascular function. Vitamin C, on the other hand, thanks to a nanotechnology that optimizes its absorption without side effects, reduces oxidative stress and improves vascular remodeling with cascading beneficial effects on the entire organism”.
by Noemi Penna