Nearly everyone knows that cold and flu season is upon us. Roughly, between the months of September to March is the peak of the season and there are a lot of people who get the flu vaccine every year to keep from catching this dreaded illness. But though a simple shot can work, there are other measures, you have probably heard of, that can help prevent the spread of these viruses. And what if you catch it anyway? There are some simple ways to get through it that we will go over also.
First, let’s talk symptoms. Body aches, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, chills, headache, fever, and coughing are all symptoms of both a cold and the flu. So, how do you tell them apart. Here’s how the CDC explains it:
” In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.”
According the to Mayo Clinic, the methods to prevent catching a cold or the flu are simple;
- Wash your hands.
- Contain coughs and sneezes by doing so into a tissue. If there is no tissue available, use the crook of your elbow. Then repeat number 1.
- Keep your stuff clean. Wipe down common surfaces like bathroom counter tops and light switches and wash kid’s toys.
- Don’t share eating utensils or drinking cup with those who are sick.
- Avoid crowds. This one can be hard as far as the workplace goes, but do try to steer clear of individuals who may infected. And if being in a crowded space is too difficult to get away from, don’t touch your nose, mouth, or eyes as these are the easiest pathways for the viruses to travel. Oh, and repeat number 1.
Now, what should you do if you DO catch a cold or the flu?
- Get plenty of liquids. Water, juice, soup, and warm lemon water with honey are all great. Avoid things that will dehydrate you like alcohol and caffeine.
- Get lots of rest. Your body will fight off infection and heal faster if you just take it easy for a while.
- Relieve the pain. If a sore throat is bothersome, gargle with a saltwater solution. Use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 8 oz of water. A vaporizer or humidifier can help, too. If it’s body aches that are causing your discomfort, try taking some acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Don’t ever take antibiotics for a cold or flu. These illnesses are caused by a virus and taking antibiotics will do nothing to help. However, there are some home remedies that can also be effective in getting through the grossness.
First, you can increase circulation in nasal membranes. Do this with steam inhalations or by using a Neti pot with a saline/saltwater solution. These will loosen the secretions and irrigate the nasal passages. Another remedy you can try is to use essential oils. Before using them, make sure you have pure, 100%, undiluted essential oils. For viral infections, pine-needle, thyme, peppermint, and eucalyptus have been proven effective. You can put a few drops on a tissue and inhale deeply, use them with a steam inhalation, or bathe in them. One more remedy you might look in to, is food. Almost everyone can tell you to get more Vitamin C when you are sick and there are studies that suggest it can aid your immune system in fighting off the infection. But here’s one you probably haven’t heard of; a concoction made of cider vinegar, horseradish, and honey. Sounds disgusting, right? Well, maybe. But it’s been proven effective for fighting off colds. Because of the expectorant components these ingredients are made of, these are great at inhibiting the growth of bacteria, fighting infection, and speeding up the healing process. Here’s how to make it:
Mix 1 tsp of freshly ground horseradish with 1 Tbsp each of cider vinegar and honey. Take 1 tsp 4 times daily.
Don’t be fooled. These are not the only remedies to fight off colds and the flu. With enough time to Google and Pinterest, anyone can find an incredible amount of information on what to do. The thing to remember is that everyone heals at their own pace and not all remedies will work the same on everyone. Just make sure you stay hydrated and get rest. Hopefully you will miss the cold and flu train this year.
Have a beautiful day and stay well!