5 Tips for Staying Healthy This Winter
With more than 200 viruses that cause the common cold, it may seem impossible to avoid getting sick.
Flu cases in the southern states are unusually high this year, as well.
Cold and flu symptoms can be similar, but the difference between a common cold and other viral infections is that people with the common cold usually do not have a high fever or extreme fatigue, according to the Mayo Clinic website.
Cold symptoms can include runny or stuffy nose, itchy or sore throat, cough, congestion, slight body aches or a mild headache, sneezing, watery eyes, low-grade fever (up to 102° F) or mild fatigue.
Flu symptoms can include severe headaches, cough, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, and body soreness or pain.
The good news is there are some steps you can take to decrease your chances of coming down with a cold or the flu. The best defense against both illnesses is washing hands and disinfecting common areas used in public, such as carts at the supermarket or door handles. It is also important to stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.
Because colds are caused by viruses, they can’t be cured, but there are ways to deal with the symptoms.
- Get the rest your body needs to heal itself.
- If possible, stay away from other people, especially if you have a cough.
- If you must be around others, reduce the chance of spreading infection by coughing into your sleeve and washing hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose.
- The room of the sick person should be warm, but not overheated.
- Keeping the room humidified can also help ease congestion and coughing. A cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer is best, and be sure it is kept clean to avoid mold and bacterial growth.
If you do get sick, stay hydrated. Drink lots of water, juice and tea and eat warm soup to replace fluids lost from having a runny nose and fever.
And it turns out, mom was right about that chicken soup. According to the Mayo Clinic website, research has shown that chicken soup helps relieve cold symptoms by acting as an anti-inflammatory. It also, “temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose, helping relieve congestion and limiting the time the viruses are in contact with the nasal lining.”
A few other simple home remedies you can try:
- To soothe a sore throat or cough, gargle with warm salt water several times a day.
- Drink honey mixed with warm lemon water or tea. A 2007 study showed that children two years old and older who were given up to two teaspoons of honey before bed had less nighttime coughing and improved sleep, which is about as effective as the typical over-the-counter doses of the cough suppressant dextromethorphan.
Warning: Do not give honey to children under age 1 because it may cause infant botulism.
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