Did you know that 60% of people with flu symptoms leave the house during their illness? Furthermore, 70% of them go to the drugstore. A good reason to stay clear of the pharmacy during peak cold and flu season!
Good preparation involves a lot more than a vaccine. Cold and flu germs are highly contagious. If an infected person sneezes, anyone within a 3-foot radius is likely to get exposed. And those flu germs live up to 24 hours on hard surfaces. Not to mention that the sick person unwittingly starts spreading germs as early as three days BEFORE feeling any symptoms and continues to be contagious up to 24 hours after the natural break of a fever.
Tips for yourself and for your loved one
- Get the flu vaccine. Even if it’s not a perfect match with this year’s influenza virus, it will minimize the intensity of symptoms.
- Get eight hours of sleep at night. In one study, those who got fewer hours were three times more likely to catch a cold.
- Wash hands often. Touching hard surfaces (counters, doorknobs, the poles on public transit) is a sure-fire way to bring germs into your body.
- Frequently clean surfaces at home and work.
- Shy away from crowded situations.
Avoid the pharmacy by stocking up ahead of time on
- soups, teas, and other fluids to keep well hydrated;
- fever reducers: Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin;
- saline drops or a neti pot to gently flush nasal passages;
- honey and/or cough drops to soothe the throat;
- decongestants (to dry up the nose), cough suppressants (for nighttime sleeping), expectorants (for daytime purging of mucus in the lungs). Consult with the doctor beforehand to be sure there are no conflicts with prescribed medicines;
- lots of tissues. Don’t keep used ones around;
- humidifiers to ease breathing;
- wedged pillows to sit (and sleep) more upright.