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How to Survive Cold and Flu Season

by Jeremy Holcombe

It’s that time of the year again.  The holidays are over and spring hasn’t sprung.  But colds and flu?  They seem to be peaking.  So how do you survive it?

Your mom may have told you (over and over) to be sure to wear your hat and gloves.  That might help you feel warm, but the truth is, they have little to due with staying healthy.  So here are some doctor–approved, tried and true ideas sure to help you survive the season.

Wash your hands.  The simplest advice may still be the best.  It may sound silly, but washing with soap for at least 20 seconds really does keep you from transmitting viruses and bacteria from your hands to your eyes, nose and mouth.

Get a flu shot.  When we say “the flu,” we don’t mean the 24-hour stomach bug that we often call the flu.  We mean influenza  —  characterized by a week or two of fever, chills, aches, cough, headache and fatigue that sends us to our beds and makes us miss work.  But luckily, it’s not too late to get a flu shot.  It’s an easy, inexpensive and relatively painless way to ward off this year’s flu strain — and keep you on your feet.

Be prepared.  Take a cue from the boy scouts – or your mom – and stock up on supplies and remedies before you need them.  Make your own “first aid” kit filled with pain and fever relievers (like ibuprofen or acetaminophen), cough medicine, cough drops, decongestants and a thermometer.  And don’t forget the Kleenex!

Eat yogurt.  You may think of yogurt as a healthy choice or even a diet food, but research shows that people that eat yogurt or take probiotics daily actually had a significant drop in respiratory infections.

Drink fluids.  Water is best, but other non-caffeinated drinks, popsicles, tea and even soup help you stay hydrated and restore any fluids you lose through fever or vomiting.  Drinking liquids when you’re sick will also help reduce congestion and boost your energy.

Get enough sleep.  Studies have shown that people who get at least eight hours of sleep each night are one-third less likely to catch a cold.  And of course if you do get sick, stay in bed, relax on the couch, and take naps.

Don’t share. Generosity is a virtue, but if you, a family member, or co-worker feel under the weather, keep your hands and your stuff to yourself!  Don’t share glasses, utensils or toothbrushes.  And be sure to clean counters, handles, remotes and landline phones with sanitized wipes.

Skip the gym.  Some people think exercising will help you to “sweat out” the germs, but colds and flu don’t work that way.  While you’re becoming tired and dehydrated, you’re spreading germs all around the gym!

Take care of yourself.  And finally, the best way to get better faster is just to take it easy.  Resist the urge to go into work.  There’s no need to feel guilty — you need to rest and take care of yourself.  And your co-workers will be glad you stayed away.  Trust us.




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