With flu season fast approaching, many pharmacies and doctors’ offices have made flu shots available for patients looking to avoid a costly bout with the virus. For children and the elderly, avoiding a battle with the flu becomes even more important, as undeveloped or weakened immune systems can struggle to fight off an infection. At Newberg Family Dental, Dr. Jennifer McLeod, your dentist in Newberg wants all of her patients to avoid the flu and stay healthy this fall and winter season.
Fortunately, when it comes to avoiding the flu, you don’t just have to rely on luck. By taking precautions and being mindful of the season, you can significantly reduce your risk of picking up a pesky flu strain. Here are a number of helpful tips to keep in mind during the remainder of this cold and flu season.
Wash Your Hands
Since childhood, most people have been hearing about the importance of washing their hands frequently throughout the day. However, just because you hear good advice doesn’t always mean you follow through.
You can pick up a wide variety of germs by touching everyday objects, such as door handles, telephones, handrails, quarterly reports, and just about anything else you come into contact with throughout the day. By washing your hands frequently, even when they don’t feel dirty, you wash away bacteria and germs than can easily enter your system whenever your hands come into contact with the eyes or mouth.
Be Prepared for the Season
Don’t let cold and flu season take you by surprise. Once the weather turns from the chill of fall to the freezing cold of winter, you need to stock up on cold-fighting supplies. Decongestants, pain relievers, cold medication, hand sanitizers, tissues, soap, and a working thermometer will all go a long way toward helping you become prepared to deal with any illnesses that afflict the family.
Look for Symptoms
The earlier you treat the symptoms of an illness, the less severe your bout with a cold or flu will become. Studies have shown that taking high doses of vitamin C and zinc within 24 hours of developing symptoms of a cold or flu can help to reduce the length and severity of an illness.
Additionally, while colds and flu viruses have many of the same symptoms, the two illnesses do distinguish themselves in certain ways. A cold might cause a slight fever and a runny nose, while the flu generally causes body aches, a fever over 100 degrees, and exhaustion. By identifying the symptoms of an illness early, you can determine what steps you need to take in order to recover more quickly.
Another advantage of paying attention of the symptoms of an illness is the opportunity to use the right kind of medication to treat your cold or flu. While you might be tempted to use an over-the-counter medication that treats a variety of symptoms, such as a multipurpose cough suppressant, painkiller, and decongestant, health experts recommend against using medication that treats for symptoms you don’t have. Make sure you read the label of any cold or flu medication carefully to ensure that the drug will treat your current symptoms.
Keep in mind that if you’re accustomed to visiting the doctor to receive medication when sick that antibiotics do nothing to treat either a cold or flu. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, and viruses cause colds and the flu.
Stop the Spread of Germs
If you or a family member find themselves sick, you need to take a few extra precautions to avoid the spread of germs in the home. In the bathroom, for example, consider changing out hand towels for paper towels, keep toothbrushes completely separate, and wash all communal items like utensils, plates, and cups thoroughly with hot water and soap before reusing.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Consuming additional fluids while sick will help to thin out mucus, allowing your sinuses to drain better. Water, broth, and sports drinks are all good choices, while alcohol should be avoided. Drinking hot beverages, such as herbal tea and water with honey, will help warm your airway and relieve congestion. For parents with sick kids who refuse to drink, try offering them popsicles made from 100 percent fruit juice.
Cold and flu viruses get spread through person-to-person contact. If you become sick, stay home and away from coworkers and classmates to prevent the spread of an illness. If everyone who came down with a cold or bout of the flu stayed home, the number of cases of each illness would shrink significantly. Do yourself and everyone else a favor, and spend at least 24 hours in bed.
If you do happen to get sick, take a look at our Dentist in Newberg blog post that highlights the best oral health-friendly foods to eat when you have a cold.