Don’t Write Off Flu Season Just Yet
Have you noticed the flu is not going around this winter? It’s not your imagination. Cold and flu season came late this season. The warmer-than-normal winter delayed the full-on spread of these winter woes. So it’s not too late to get that flu shot. And no, you shouldn’t skip it.
At least one in five Americans catches flu each year, according to the CDC. It can result in an unpleasant few days off. In the case of flu, which is much more serious than a cold, a bad case could land you in the hospital.
When Does Flu Season Start?
Flu season normally starts in October and peaks sharply around the holidays. You can catch a cold any time of year, but flu thrives in drier times of year like fall and winter, so the season is defined by the rapid spread of this virus. The reason? Spending extended time indoors with lots of other people, in spaces without much air circulation (hello work and school!), makes it easier to spread the germs.
Can You Prevent Sickness?
Both cold and flu viruses are transmitted through contact with infected surfaces and through the air. While you can’t do much about airborne germs, short of wearing a mask, you can cut the risk of infection by keeping your hands away from your eyes, mouth and nose. Use your elbow, knuckle, or tissue-covered hand to open doors. Push elevator buttons with your ring finger knuckle; you’re far less likely to use that one to rub your eyes. It also helps to wash your hands often and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
It is also a smart idea to strengthen your immune system by eating healthy, filling your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables, and getting plenty of rest. Some people also swear by natural recipes and remedies, such as taking extra vitamin C, zinc and echinacea. Ask our healthcare practitioner what he or she recommends.
Cold and Flu Treatment
While nothing can cure the common cold, the worst of the symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medications: decongestants, antihistamines and NSAIDS. The duration of flu, on the other hand, can be shortened with prescription antiviral drugs like oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza).
Is it Cold or Flu?
- Colds come from more than 100 different viruses, while influenza strains fall within two types, A and B. That’s a big reason why it’s possible to vaccinate against the flu.
- They have a few similar symptoms but affect people differently. Flu is much more serious, causing chills, fever and fatigue. It can lead to pneumonia in vulnerable people.
- Neither illness can be treated with antibiotics because they are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Rest and plenty of liquids are the best ways to get better. You can also try some natural remedies to ease your discomfort.
Stay as well-protected as you can during cold and flu season. It’s not a bad idea to stock up on medications. You can even order them online using coupon codes for your favorite pharmacy and have them delivered to your door.
And if you do succumb, do the right thing: make sure you stay home and try not to infect other people.