Contagious viruses are actives year round, but in the fall and winter we are the most vulnerable to them. People spend more time indoors during this time with other people and there’s a lot of cold weather. To combat viruses we can use several FDA approved vaccines and medications.
Most respiratory viruses are gone within a few days and have no lasting effects, but some of them can cause serious health problems. People that use tobacco or get secondhand smoke, are prone to respiratory illnesses and can have more complications than nonsmoker do when exposed.
A cold usually causes sneezing, stuffed, and runny noses. There may be a scratchy throat as well as watery eyes and coughing. There’s no vaccine for a cold and they start gradually and often come from contact with infected mucus.
The flu last longer than a cold and can come on suddenly. Headache, fever, chills, body aches, dry cough, general misery, and fatigue are all symptoms of the flu. The flue may also cause a stuffy or runny nose and there may be nausea or vomiting issues. The flu is spread when people talk, sneeze or talk and spread droplets in the air. You may also get the flu by touching an infected surface that has the flu virus.
Tips for Prevention
There are rare exceptions, but everyone over six months of age should get the flu vaccine. You can get the vaccine as a nasal spray or a shot. This reduces doctor’s visits, flu illness as well as missed school or work. The vaccine also prevents hospitalization due to flu complications as well as death from the flu.
You should get the vaccine before October, but vaccines through January and other months can still offer you protection. You need an annual vaccination as the flue always changes and the vaccine needs to be updated. A person’s immune protection from the virus will decline over time. For people at high risk, an annual flu vaccine is important. These individuals include:
- Children under five years of age, and especially those younger than two
- Women that are pregnant
- People that have chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, lung, or heart disease
- Anyone over the age of sixty-five
Wash Hands Often
You should wash your hands often and teach your children to do this also. Colds and flu can be passed through contaminated surfaces like your hands. Soap and water are best for hygiene according to the FDA, but you can also use alcohol based hand rubs. Make sure you clean the hands and remove dirt or blood as this will make the alcohol based rub ineffective at killing bacteria.
Limit Exposure to Those that are Sick
Try to keep small children like infants away from crowds during their first few months.
Heathy Habits for Prevention
- Make sure you eat a healthy diet
- Get plenty of sleep
- Make sure you exercise
- Keep tabs on your stress