Winter respiratory infections

Cold, bronchitis, strep throat... It’s hard to get through the winter without being affected by at least one of these respiratory infections. In terms of prevention, probiotic therapy may stimulate immune defenses.

Created 15 October 2020
Updated 07 December 2023

About this article

Created 15 October 2020
Updated 07 December 2023

Winter diseases, which are most often viral, sometimes have clinical signs very similar to the flu (Influenza virus), which is why they’re called influenza-like illnesses or flu-like symptoms.

Flu-like symptoms, often confused with flu

Flu-like symptoms include some or all of the following symptoms: fever < 38.5 C, chills, cough, fatigue, muscle ache, sore throat, headaches, runny nose, etc. Only blood tests can confirm infection with the influenza virus.

An overburdened immune system

Intestinal immune defenses protect you from attacks by pathogenic agents like bacteria and viruses. However, in winter, the immune system is attacked more often. We spend more time confined, and rooms are less well-aired. As a result, more circulating microbes are transmitted (exhaled air, coughs, sneezing).

Probiotic therapy being studied

The viral nature of winter respiratory infections immediately excludes the use of antibiotics. Treatment is symptomatic: acetaminophen, together with hydration and rest, is the basis of the medical prescription.
The use of probiotics has also been proven to be effective in clinical studies on winter respiratory diseases. The daily use of probiotics for several months reduced fever, runny nose, and coughing. It also led to a reduction in the prescription of antibiotics and the number of sick days.