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Good Health Habits

There are other important ways that you can protect yourself and others from catching or spreading the flu or other illnesses:
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and running errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Or, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. Always wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean your hands. Washing your hands for 15 seconds will help protect you from germs. Or, clean hands with an alcohol-based hand cleaner if a sink is not readily available.
  • Clean Surfaces. Clean frequently touched hard surfaces (think door knobs, computer station, phone) with a I: I0 solution of chlorine bleach to water or a commercial germicide.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contan1inated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Get rest, eat healthy foods and limit stress.
  • Watch and help toddlers. Toddler age children (under 6 years) are most frequently the "carrier" of the flu virus due to their activities and handwashing techniques.

    Based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How to Prevent seasonal flu.

Is It a Cold or Flu?

The following is a guide to determine whether you have the flu or a cold:

Check your symptom
Fever Rare in adults and older children; can be as high as 102 degrees in infants and small children Usually 102 degrees F, but can go up to 104 degrees F and usually lasts 3-4 days  
Headache Rare Sudden onset and can be severe  
Muscle aches Mild Usual, and often severe  
Tiredness and weakness Mild Often extreme, and can last two or more weeks  
Extreme exhaustion Never Sudden onset and can be severe  
Runny nose Often Sometimes  

Home Remedies

  • Using a humidifier may help you breathe more easily. If you do use a humidifier, remember to change the water and clean the tank daily with a mild solution of bleach.
  • Gargling with salt and warm water can help relieve a sore throat. Instructions: Dissolve 2 teaspoons of salt in 8 ounces of warm water. Use this to gargle every four hours.
  • Drinking hot beverages may temporarily help relieve a sore throat and clear nasal passages. Stay away from alcoholic beverages though; alcohol may actually lead to increased nasal congestion.
  • Drinking plenty of decaffeinated, non-alcoholic fluids (10-12 glasses per day) can help soothe a dry throat and relieve some coughs.
  • Using a cool mist vaporizer
  • Getting enough sleep won't cure a cold or the flu, but if you're tired, you should sleep. Getting 8-10 hours of sleep when you're sick is a good idea.
  • Being around smoke may make your sore throat and congestion even worse. Avoid smoking and second hand smoke.

Over the Counter Medications

Cold and flu medications relieve symptoms but do not actually kill the viruses. The only way to get rid of a cold or flu is to allow your body to eliminate the virus is its own way-this simply takes time. Although you can't cure a virus, you can take medications that will help you feel better:
  • Petroleum jelly or skin lotion can help ease your chapped nose or lips.
  • Hard candies, lozenges or cough drops may soothe a sore or dry throat.
  • Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol or ibuprofen) may relieve body aches, headaches, sore throats and fever.
  • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen should be taken after meals or with food to minimize stomach irritation. If your fever is mild (below 100.5) you really don't need to try to bring it down; a mild fever is one of the ways the body is able to kill the virus and is not dangerous.
       Instructions: Take 1-2 regular-strength acetaminophen every 4 hours, or take 1-2 tablets of ibuprofen every 4-6 hours. People under 21 should not use aspirin to treat flu symptoms due to possible complications of Reye's Syndrome.
  • Decongestants, such as Sudafed, can help relieve a stuffy nose, ear congestion or ear popping. Pseudoephedrine may only be purchased in limited doses from the Norris Pharmacy.
  • Cough syrups should be used only for certain kinds of coughs.
       Coughing is useful because is removes secretions from your throat. If your cough is wet and productive (you are coughing up secretions), you should not use a cough suppressant unless the cough is preventing you from sleeping. Instead, try sucking on hard candies or drinking something hot.
       If you have a dry, non-productive cough, (you are not coughing up secretions) you may want to try an expectorant-suppressant cough syrup, such as Robitussin DM to loosen up the mucus and ease your discomfort.
  • Antihistamines are effective in relieving allergy symptoms, but they may not be very effective for treating cold or flu symptoms. Tip: they can also cause drowsiness, and should never be combined with alcohol.
  • Never take left-over or old antibiotics. Antibiotics do not kill cold or flu viruses and they do not help ease cold and flu symptoms. Never take someone else's medicine.


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