Cold and Flu Season is Here! Get the Information You Need to Stay Healthy.
When the weather turns frigid and the days grow short, it’s a sure sign that cold and flu season is on the way.
Winter is around the corner, signaling the battle cry against seasonal illnesses. It's the time of year when sniffles, coughs, and sneezes are all around us and we do what we can to ward them off. There’s plenty of misinformation out there, too, so it’s wise to arm yourself with the facts.
In this article, we will share some important information about common seasonal illnesses, along with seven tips to help you stay healthy throughout the cold and flu season.
Understanding the Basics: Cold vs. Flu
Before we explore prevention strategies, let's look at the differences between the common cold and the flu. While both are respiratory illnesses, they are caused by different viruses and their symptoms can vary.
The Common Cold:
- Gradual onset of symptoms
- Mild fatigue and weakness
- Sore throat, sneezing, and a runny or stuffy nose
- Coughing and congestion
- Generally, colds do not lead to serious health problems
The Flu (Influenza):
- Sudden onset of symptoms
- Severe fatigue and weakness
- High fever, chills, and body aches
- Dry cough and chest discomfort
- Can lead to complications like pneumonia or bronchitis
Follow these seven tips to successfully navigate the cold and flu season:
1. Practice good hand hygiene.
Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, paying particular attention to the spaces between the fingers and under the nails. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available or as an added precaution.
2. Nourish your immune system.
Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Keep your body well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Consider taking immune-boosting supplements like vitamin C and zinc.
3. Get vaccinated.
Ensure you and your family members receive the annual flu vaccine. Check with your healthcare provider about other recommended vaccinations such as those for pneumonia and RSV.
4. Practice proper respiratory hygiene.
Be sure to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or handkerchief when coughing or sneezing. If you don’t have a tissue available, cough or sneeze into your elbow to contain the spray of germs. Dispose of tissues properly and thoroughly wash your hands.
5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
In addition to getting good nutrition, adopting healthy habits in general can reduce the likelihood of illness. Prioritize regular exercise and get adequate sleep to strengthen your immune system. Learn to manage stress through daily practices like meditation, yoga, and journaling.
6. Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
As much as possible, steer clear of people displaying cold or flu symptoms. If members of your household are ill, reduce your contact with them, wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your face to reduce the likelihood of virus transmission. If you are unwell, minimize contact with others to prevent the spread of illness. Wear a face mask when you are in public spaces such as the grocery store or when in the proximity of unwell persons.
7. Keep your environment clean.
Regularly disinfect commonly touched surfaces like doorknobs, remote controls, light switches, and electronics. Wash bedding and towels frequently using hot water.
Staying healthy during cold and flu season gets easier when you have the right information. If you need additional resources about how to avoid winter illnesses, we are here to help. Please reach out to our caring professionals anytime.
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