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Cold and Flu Prevention

Even though it’s January, the flu and cold season isn’t over yet.  Luckily, there are simple precautions you can take to dramatically reduce your chances of catching these common viruses.

By Barbara Abrahams

Colds and the flu are more prevalent this time of year because it is cold outside and we spend more time together indoors.  Because we are closer with one another, we ‘share’ our viruses more readily – touching the same surfaces, sneezing, coughing, etc.  Here are some simple suggestions that will help you stay well this winter season:

  1. WASH YOUR HANDS with soap and water at every opportunity!  Hint:  Wash for the length of time it takes you to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice.  The use of an alcohol based hand sanitizer can be effective if soap and water is not available.
  2. Keep hands away from mouth, nose and eyes (your face in general).
  3. Stay hydrated.
  4. Get at least 6-7 hours of sleep a night.
  5. Eat a balanced diet.

In many cases flu symptoms seem to begin suddenly and cold symptoms seem to emerge more slowly.  There are some antiviral medications that when taken early in the course of the flu, can shorten the duration of the illness by a day or two – you can consult with your physician about the use of these antivirals especially if you have a pre-exisiting health condition that might be impacted by the virus.  If you do get the symptoms of a cold/flu, and wish to treat it symptomatically (Tylenol for fever, decongestant and humidifier for nasal stuffiness, cough medicine for cough), contact your health care provider if your symptoms do not improve or if they worsen after three days.