Tips to help you survive cold and flu season
The holidays are over, and it’s back to all your usual responsibilities — until you and your family are hit by the onslaught of cold and flu season. Here are a few tips to help you weather the storm.
- It’s not too late to get your flu shot. Yes, earlier is better, but a flu shot could still offer some protection. Don’t delay, though. The vaccine takes about two weeks after injection to start protecting you from the flu virus.
- Wash your hands. Washing your hands well and often fights the spread of many illnesses including the common cold, the flu, and more serious illness such as meningitis, bronchitis, influenza, and hepatitis A. Using soap and warm or hot water when possible, wash your hands and wrists for at least 15 to 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer can help when washing your hands with soap and water isn’t an option.
- Take care of yourself. Boost your immunity, and your odds of dodging colds and flu, with healthy habits. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water.
It’s happened. Despite your best efforts, you got sick. Here’s what you can do.
- Is it a cold or the flu? If you’re mostly just stuffy and sneezy, it’s probably a cold. If your symptoms are intense and include a high fever, exhaustion and aches and pains, you probably have the flu. To avoid spreading it to others, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or other necessities.
- Should you see your doctor? You can’t treat a cold or the flu with antibiotics, and most symptoms respond well to home care. Contact your doctor if you’re at high risk of serious flu-related complications or if your symptoms are extreme or persist beyond 7 to 10 days.
- Rest, hydrate and then rest some more. Whether you have a cold or a flu, your best bet is to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Water is always a good choice, and warm liquids like herbal tea, broth or warm lemon water with honey may also help loosen congestion. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can make your symptoms worse.