Practical advice about infections during cold and flu season
Dr. Erin Hanssen
Published Thursday, February 15, 2018 12:28PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 15, 2018 2:18PM EST
Dr. Erin Hanssen shares practical advice about infections during cold and flu season.
- Get the flu shot!
- Wash your hands frequently
- Don’t touch the mucous membranes on your face (eyes, nose, mouth) as those are the entry points for these viruses into your system
- Open door knobs with your sleeve or gloved hand
- Do your community a service and stay home from work, school, daycare if you are sick
- An overwhelming majority of infections during cold and flu season are viral. This means that antibiotics, like penicillin, do NOT help you recover.
- This doesn’t mean that viral infections, particularly the flu, cannot cause serious illness and occasionally be fatal
Overwhelmingly, treatment is directed at the symptoms caused by the viral illness. For example:
- Cough: 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey (if > 1 year old), a VapoRub on the chest, lozenges
- Congestion: saline nasal/sinus rinses, decongestants in certain circumstances
- Sore throat: fluids, lozenges, salt gargles, acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Headache, body aches, joint aches: acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Pink, swollen, gritty feeling eye: cold compresses (eg., chamomile tea bag), preservative free artificial tears
- Eye discharge: wash lids with tear free baby shampoo
- Do not underestimate your need for rest and time to recover from any infection
- When in doubt, be assessed by your family doctor or in the emergency room!