It’s January, which means that Old Man Winter has the Northern Hemisphere firmly in his grasp. The cold weather brings lots of things, some great (like the first snow!), others…meh (like every snow after that). During these dark days of winter, it’s important for you and your loved ones to stay healthy. Did you know that health officials estimate there will be one billion colds this season alone? Moreover, that doesn’t take into account the number of people who will catch the flu. So we at Crucial Vacuum have gathered some tips on flu prevention to help keep your family healthy.
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, hopefully you’ve already gotten your flu shot. If not, you can still get them well into January. As one of the top flu prevention methods, because the official flu season runs until May, it’s still a good idea to protect yourself. Remember that it generally takes one to two weeks for a flu shot to fully protect you, so the sooner you get it, the better. As always, make sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist with any questions you have about getting a flu shot.
Other Ways to Protect Yourself
If you choose not to be vaccinated, there are still ways you can reduce your risk of catching the flu or cold. First, keep up with your exercise. You can cut your chance of catching a cold by up to 33 percent just by getting in a half-hour of exercise five days a week. Get plenty of rest and eat healthy foods including fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants. Most importantly, wash your hands thoroughly and often. Don’t neglect under the nails and near your wrists. You touch your face an average of 4 to 5 times per hour. How many germs is that being transferred from your hands to your face each day. A small bottle of hand sanitizer can also fill in in a pinch.
Uh Oh. You’re Coughing. What Did You Get?
So, in spite of your best flu prevention efforts, you’ve gotten something. How do you know if you have a simple cold or a bout of influenza? Both the flu and the cold share many symptoms, from coughing, to a sore throat, and headaches. Contrary to popular belief, both of them cause fevers, especially in children. However, a higher fever, usually about 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit, is a strong indicator of the flu. The best way to tell if you have the flu is to pay attention to your symptoms. If they are severe, you probably have the flu. If they are generally mild, you have a cold.
Treating Your Case of the Icks
Once you’re sick, there isn’t much you can do but ride out the storm. That doesn’t mean you have to suffer, however; there are plenty of things you can do to help yourself feel better. Over the counter remedies can provide a lot of support, from headache relief to cough suppression. Just be careful not to mix medications without reading the labels carefully. If you have a previous medical condition, make sure to consult with your doctor before you take any new medicines. If you have a fever and are uncomfortable, take a fever reducer such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help.
Not all relief has to come from medication. There are other things you can do to alleviate your symptoms. Stay hydrated. Even if you don’t feel like you need to, drink lots of non-caffeinated fluids such as water, sports drinks, or simple fruit juices. The juice and sports drink will help replenish electrolytes and sugars that your body loses. Using mentholated vapor rubs and heat packs can sooth coughing as well. Get plenty of rest. Additionally, many people find that a humidifier also helps ease painful breathing from inflamed bronchial tissues.
One note about humidifiers. There are several different kinds of humidifiers, ranging from wick to forced hot steam types. If you choose to use a heated steam humidifier, make sure that you put it on a stable surface where pets or children cannot knock it over. Regardless of what type of humidifier you use, make sure to keep it clean and swap out the filters regularly. Also thoroughly clean your machine once per month, especially near the opening that the mist is released.
It’s unfortunate that cold and flu season has to land right on top of the winter holidays, but there are plenty of things you can do to prevent catching the seasonal crud. Even if you do, you don’t have to sit and suffer in silence. Take steps to make yourself less uncomfortable and you’re sure to be back to your chipper self in no time while you wait for spring and warmer weather to arrive.