Fight Back This Cold and Flu Season
Over the years, you’ve probably come to spot the symptoms: a runny nose, a lingering cough, or a fever that you can’t seem to shake. Maybe you feel familiar aches and pains; maybe you’re too tired to get out of bed. The signs, though, are clear.
If you’re a seasonal sufferer, you’ve already got your doctor on speed dial. You make your appointment, get your diagnosis, and prepare yourself for the days ahead. You grab a box of tissues, a bottle of Tylenol, and bundle up with your favorite fleece blanket 一 ready to fight a seasonal sickness that’s familiar to many of us.
The common cold and flu affect millions of Americans every year, but they peak in the fall and winter months. With dropping temperatures and drier air, the viruses that cause cold and flu are more viable and therefore lead to more cases of illness. If you’ve recently been struck by either sickness, you’re not alone. The CDC estimates that there are between 9 and 45 million cases of the flu every year and over 1 billion cases of the common cold, as the average adult gets between 2-3 colds every year.
These numbers are cause for concern, especially with COVID-19 continuing to circulate. COVID-19 can have many of the same symptoms as cold or flu, and when combined with either illness, it can be deadly.
It’s important to take precautions against cold and flu every year, but it is critical this year, as you work to keep yourself and your family safe in the pandemic. With that being said, here are some of our top tips to try this season:
10 Steps to Keep Yourself Safe
- Get vaccinated 一 Vaccines are one of the most effective ways to fight cold and flu, and this season is the right time to get yours. While there is no vaccine for the common cold, there is one for the flu and now, for COVID-19. 52% of Americans get the flu shot every year, reducing their chance of infection by 40-60%. In addition, 55% of Americans have received their COVID-19 vaccine, which reduces the risk of hospitalization by 95%. If you are interested in getting either vaccine, reach out to your local community pharmacy to set up an appointment. With RxLocal’s new Vaccine Scheduler, you can quickly and easily find a pharmacy that fits your needs.
- Wash your hands 一 It may seem like a no-brainer, but soaping up and scrubbing your hands for the CDC-recommended 20 seconds can reduce your chance of catching a cold by up to 20% and getting the flu by up to 85%. If you are on the go and soap and water aren’t available, try using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% of alcohol
- Maintain social distancing 一 The term “social distancing” is typically used in reference to COVID-19, but studies show that keeping a safe 6-foot distance from others can help protect against cold and flu, too. Aside from social distancing, measures like wearing a face mask can also slow the spread of cold and flu. When you take these steps, you can feel confident that you’re protecting yourself from not one, not two, but three different illnesses.
- Know the signs 一 Even if you take all of the proper precautions, you still run the risk of catching cold or flu. Because of this, it’s important that you know the symptoms of each illness so that you can get treated in a timely manner and protect others around you. The Mayo Clinic offers an excellent resource that compares symptoms of cold, flu, COVID-19, and even seasonal allergies. Check it out here.
- Limit contact with others 一 In the event that you do come down with a case of cold or flu, it is necessary to self-isolate while your sickness persists. If you have either illness, you are contagious from the time you get infected until the time your symptoms subside. In some cases, you may even be contagious before your symptoms start; so it’s important to be aware of your risks and take precautions.
- Stock up on OTCs 一 A number of over-the-counter medications can help you to feel better faster. Because cold and flu are viral infections, they do not have prescribed treatments. You can, however, treat the symptoms. Pain relievers, fever reducers, and cough suppressants are all items that can ease your symptoms and speed up your recovery. Before you make any purchase, though, talk to your doctor and your local community pharmacist to find out which items you need.
- Try home remedies 一 In addition to medications, you can use natural remedies to alleviate your cold and flu symptoms. For a sore throat, try gargling with salt water or drinking hot liquids, like tea (and don’t forget to add a bit of honey). For a stuffy nose, try taking a hot shower or rinsing your nose out with warm water. And, to boost your immune system, try eating vitamin-rich foods.
- Use vitamins and supplements 一 Aside from eating nutritious foods, you can get an immune boost by taking vitamins and supplements. Vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and selenium are all top choices that may help shorten the duration of your illness. Once again, though, talk to a trusted healthcare provider before making any purchase.
- Rest and reset 一 Of all the measures that you can take to ward off your symptoms, though, one of the most powerful may be to simply rest. When you take the time to rest, you allow your body to use more of its resources to fight off viruses. And, when you sleep, you strengthen your immune system. Thus, it’s important to let your body do your fighting for you.
- Rely on your pharmacist 一 When you have a case of cold or flu, or when you have any other illness, your number one resource is your local community pharmacist. Your pharmacist is an affordable, easily accessible healthcare provider who can help you get the treatment you need. Whether you’re getting a vaccine, picking up a medication, or asking for advice on how to get better faster, your pharmacist is there to help you. If you don’t have a pharmacy, or if you’re looking to switch to a new one, look at our Pharmacy Finder to get matched with your perfect fit.
Your Health, In Your Hands
Cold and flu season is one of the most notorious times of the year. A simple illness can disrupt your health in more ways than one: costing you valuable time, energy, and resources in the process. By taking the right precautions, though, you can limit your chance of infection 一 and if you do happen to get sick, you can take the right steps to get back on the track to health.
This cold and flu season, be proactive. It’s up to you to protect yourself and your loved ones.