How to Prevent Colds and the Flu

Cold and Flu season has kicked into high gear! As a physician, I am surrounded by illness on a daily basis.

Despite coming in constant contact with these acute illnesses, I, as well as most physicians, manage to stay healthy. It’s amazing isn’t it!? Have you ever wondered how? Well, if so, I am going to give you some wonderful pearls of advice to help you do the same.

Make Sure to Wash Your Hands…A Lot!

We cannot control the actions of others, only ourselves. People cough into their hands, then grab doors handles, or read menus. These things are not cleaned or sanitized on a regular basis, if ever (eww).

Therefore, when you are out and about shopping, dining, or other forms of entertainment, think before you eat. Or touch your mouth. It’s simple. Do not take a bite of food without washing your hands first.

I wash my hands after every patient, then again before the next one. This leads to hand-washing up to 60 times a day! Sometimes, I don’t want to do it. My hands are dry, cracked, and painful, but it’s worth it!

The Best Way to Sneeze and Cough

Also, you can NOT be that person coughing into your hands and spreading disease. Please, cough or sneeze into a tissue or your shoulder/arm. Please.

Take Action at the First Sign

Lastly, when you begin to feel that tickle in your throat, or increased mucus production, or that first cough. Go to the pharmacy and treat yourself with over the counter medications ASAP.

If you are unsure what to purchase, call your Primary Care Physician, they can lead you in the right direction. Treating symptoms early and regularly can help you shorten the course of any upper respiratory infection, and decrease the amount of coughing and spreading of disease.

Symptoms Associated with the Flu

Generally, you can choose medications based off of symptoms (this is not a complete and comprehensive list):

  • Chest and sinus congestion, increased mucus, snot: guaifenesin, phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine
  • Cough: dextromethorphan
  • Runny eyes, Itchy ears, throat tickle: Anti-histamines! Doxylamine, loratidine, diphenhydramine.

If you are pregnant or have high blood pressure, these may not be the right options for you, so PLEASE call your Primary Care Provider before taking any Over the Counter medications!! A decent, reliable, internet site for these medications is:
http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/cough-syrup-cough-medicine

The current “common cold” going around is lasting up to 3 weeks without treatment! So wash your hands. And treat your symptoms.

When it’s Time to See a Doctor. Together, we can decrease the incidence of cold and flu. If you feel as if you have any of the symptoms of the flu or a cold, we encourage you to schedule an appointment. Stay Healthy!

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