Preventing Colds and the Flu is in your hands
Following the tips below can cut your flu risk in half.
Wash your hands often (5x a day can help)!)
- Use soap and water. Use a towel to turn off the faucet and open the door.
- If there’s no water, use a hand sanitizer that contains alcohol.
Stop the spread of germs.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Disinfect solid surfaces at work and home often. (e.g. door knobs, TV remotes, etc.)
Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Avoid close contact with people who have a cold or the flu.
Cold Versus Flu
What is the difference between a cold and the flu?
The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar flu-like symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.
How can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?
Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can be carried out, when needed to tell if a person has the flu.
What are the symptoms of the flu versus the symptoms of a cold?
Preventing seasonal flu: Get vaccinated
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. There are two types of flu vaccines:
- “Flu shots” — inactivated vaccines (containing killed virus) that are given with a needle. There are three flu shots being produced for the United States market now.
- The regular seasonal flu shot is “intramuscular” which means it is injected into muscle (usually in the upper arm). It has been used for decades and is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women. Regular flu shots make up the bulk of the vaccine supply produced for the United States.
- A hi-dose vaccine for people 65 and older which also is intramuscular. This vaccine was first made available during the 2010-2011 season.
- An intradermal vaccine for people 18 to 64 years of age which is injected with a needle into the “dermis” or skin. This vaccine is being made available for the first time for the 2011-2012 season.
- The nasal-spray flu vaccine — a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that is given as a nasal spray (sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”). The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine do not cause the flu. LAIV is approved for use in healthy* people 2 to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three influenza viruses that research suggests will be most common.
When to get vaccinated against seasonal flu
Yearly flu vaccination should begin in September, or as soon as vaccine is available, and continue throughout the flu season which can last as late as May. This is because the timing and duration of flu seasons vary. While flu season can begin early as October, most of the time seasonal flu activity peaks in January, February or later.
Treating colds and the flu is about comfort.
Get lots of rest, especially while you have a fever. Rest helps your body fight off illness.
Drink lots of fluids. This helps loosen mucus.
Soothe a sore throat by gargling with warm salt water. Or try throat spray or lozenges.
Use saline (salt water) nose drops. They loosen mucus and moisten tender skin in your nose.
Avoid alcohol and tobacco. They can make cold symptoms worse.
Use Tylenol® products for fever, body aches, sore throat, and headache.
If you have flu symptoms, call your healthcare provider if:
- you are 65 years or older. pregnant, or have a chronic medical condition, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease
- your illness seems severe
- you have a young child with flu symptoms
** Remember: Antibiotics don’t help the Flu. If you think you have flu symptoms call your doctor right away.**
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