6 Tips for Cold and Flu Season

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

An apple a day isn’t all you need to do to keep the doctor away.

It’s that time of year again. The weather is cold outside and your immune system is working overtime to make sure you’re healthy. Do everything that you can to help with these simple tips.

Wash Your Hands

The number one tip of all. It’s too cold to be outside, so you’re spending even more of your free time indoors. You know what? So is everyone else. More people than ever are touching the same things you are, passing along more germs and viruses than you are used to. One is going to slip past your body’s natural defenses.

If you get a cold or flu this year, you likely have your own dirty mitts to thank. As you pick up germs on your fingers, you may scratch your eye or eat some finger food and invite those germs into your body.

There is a solution, and it’s simple and easy. Wash your hands with soap. Do it often and well. Use hand lotion to keep them from drying out in the cold winter and causing cracks in your skin. This is a key way to prevent a cold or flu.

Get Your Flu Shot

We recommend getting a flu shot.

The flu is not a minor problem; a severe case can sideline you for days. The vaccine is the best, most effective way to allay those fears. Above that, the flu can be dangerous, especially for older adults, pregnant women, and young children who don’t wash their hands as well as you do. Get your shot, and this year you may still get sick or you may not. But know that without that shot you may be more likely to cause you and your family a lot of misery.

Be Prepared for the Season

Where’s your hand sanitizer? Do you need to get some more? When you go to battle cold and flu germs, make sure you have the weapons you need. Multi-vitamins, pain relievers, decongestants – make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked. Don’t forget hand soap and hand sanitizer and tissues. Is your thermometer battery working?

When you are at the supermarket, load up on fluids, herbal tea, and simple comfort foods like chicken soup. You may not get sick, but you want to be prepared if you do! How many times have you prepared for a worst-case scenario only for it not to happen? Maybe this time you can avoid the flu by being ready for it.

Pay Attention to Your Symptoms

Do you have a bug or a virus? Is that a cold or the bonafide flu? Unfortunately, there isn’t a surefire way to differentiate your symptoms. Even your physician may not be sure.

True, colds are milder. Usually the overreaching complaint is a runny or stuffy nose.

The flu is usually more sudden and severe. Fever, body aches, and exhaustion are more common with the flu. And they are typically shorter lasting but more intense. Both of these conditions come from a virus, so you can’t “kill” it, but there are other ways your physician can help you out.

Choose the Right Medications

Over the counter, there are lots of cold and flu remedies to choose. Avoid combination medications that package lots of drugs in one pill — like a decongestant, cough suppressant, and a painkiller. If you don’t have a cough, or if you only have aches, you are taking medication that you don’t need. You don’t feel good, true – but take the time to read labels and choose only the medications that will help.

If you have antibiotics, don’t be tempted to use them. Again, these are viruses and antibiotics work only with bacterial infections. Also, using antibiotics when you don’t need them is a bit dangerous. It increases the risk of breeding dangerous germs that are resistant to drugs.

Don’t Go to Work

Stay home. Yes. It’s not easy to take a sick day. But if you have a cold or flu, you should. Even if you feel better after lunch, don’t go in for half a day. Don’t run errands. When you’re sick, stay home, rest, and recover. It’s better for you and everyone around you.

Pushing yourself when you’re sick and working instead of resting wears down your body. Your body may have a harder time fighting off the virus. Your cold could last longer. You could also spread the virus to other people. Stay home.

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