Because many of us spend the majority of the colder months indoors, we are more susceptible to catching a variety of viruses that circulate through our society.
While colds and flu can occur any time, instances are more apparent in the fall and winter.
Here are some tips to help ward off colds and flu:
Get the flu vaccine, either from your physician or local pharmacist. Most places charge $10-$20 for the shot version. A little pain now is worth the prevention of a whole lot of misery later.
FluMist is also available at many locations that offer the vaccine. But recipients must meet certain requirements in order to receive this form because it contains a weakened form of the influenza virus. Usually it is given to healthy children ages 5 and older, and healthy adults up to age 49.
One of the most effective and simple ways to ward off germs is by hand washing. This action may seem trivial, but it's been tested and it really works — especially if you are in public a lot, such as work or school. Touching your nose, mouth, and eyes with contaminated hands makes it easy for cold and flu viruses to enter the body.
Wash your hands in warm, soapy water for at least 10-15 seconds. Then dry with a clean paper towel. You can also use that same paper towel to open door handles as you head out. That way those sparkling clean hands won't be exposed to any more germs.
Take care of your body. Eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep and exercise — these three things together can help your body's immune system response.
Don't get too stressed out. Although this is easier said than done, excess stress can literally stress your body and weaken your immune system, too. So make time to take it easy.
If you do happen to get the flu or a cold, the above suggestions can still help your body recover. Here are some more tips on taking care of yourself while recuperating from a virus:
Relenza and Tamiflu are both antiviral medications that are used to treat type A and B influenza. In order for these medications to work, they need to be taken within 24-48 hours of the first sign of symptoms.
Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water, juice, soup and noncaffeinated beverages, can help loosen mucus, keep you hydrated and make you feel better. If you have a respiratory illness, you probably want to stay away from milk-based products, which tend to clog mucus membranes. Abstain from alcohol and caffeine while you are sick, too. These beverages tend to dehydrate your body.
Although gargling with salt water may seem like an old-time remedy, this action can help relieve sore throat.
A cool-mist humidifier can help relieve stuffy noses. But be sure to clean it regularly because mold can build up in the mechanism due to the excess moisture in the machine.
Because viruses cannot be helped by taking antibiotics, you can probably stick to some of the most basic over-the-counter medications for relief of symptoms. Ask your pharmacist for assistance in choosing the right medicine to take.