6 simple ways to prevent cold, flu, sniffles and more
It's not unusual to come down with two or three colds during the winter season. It doesn't have to happen, though. Use these tips to improve your chances of avoiding cold, flu, pneumonia, and the complications they can cause.
Scrub your hands often
1. Washing your hands frequently can help you avoid getting sick or spreading germs to others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends scrubbing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or long enough to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice. Remind kids to wash their hands before eating.
Keep hands away
2. One easy way to get a cold or the flu is to touch a surface contaminated by germs — a doorknob or kitchen counter, for example — and then later touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Those are three places where germs easily enter the body. Make it a habit to avoid touching your face.
Get your flu shot
3. The flu vaccine reduces your risk of getting the flu. If you still get sick, the vaccine can make your symptoms less severe. Luckily, it's not too late. Get your vaccine today and you'll be ready for peak flu season.
Prepare for pneumonia
4. As a result of having the flu, some people develop pneumonia. The flu is a common cause of pneumonia among:
- Children 5 years and younger
- Adults 65 years and older
- People with asthma, lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, or other chronic condition
- People who smoke If you or someone you care for is at higher risk of pneumonia, ask your doctor about getting the pneumonia vaccine.
Rest and stay home
5. For many winter illnesses, the best treatment is rest, drinking clear fluids like water and tea, and taking over-thecounter (OTC) medications to relieve symptoms. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the right OTC medications, especially if you have a chronic condition. In general, it's a good idea to stay home until you've recovered so you feel better faster and avoid spreading illness.
Take a walk
6. You may feel like curling up under a blanket on some wintry days, but remember it's good for your health to be physically active. Do something to get your heart pumping and your muscles moving. Studies show that people who exercise four days a week tend to take fewer days off work due to sickness.