Cold and flu season is back

shutterstock_122401333As we near the peak months for cold and flu season, it’s a good time to review tips for prevention and treatment.

Getting the flu vaccine is still one of the best things you can do for your health in wintertime. There is no truth to the myth that you can catch the illness from the vaccine. The injection contains only a killed version of the virus.

People 65 years or older run a higher risk of complications from the flu, as do people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, emphysema, heart disease, and diabetes. It can, however, take up to two weeks for the flu vaccine to take effect, so the earlier, the better. But they are usually available through February.

Good hand-washing routines are another top defense against illness. Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds, or use alcohol-based sanitizer, whenever you have been out in public—especially in a community living environment. Viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to eight hours.

If you do get ill, follow these recommendations:

• Eat what you can. This will maintain your energy to help your body fight the virus. If you don’t have much appetite, at least try simple foods like white rice or soup.
• Drink a lot of fluids, but avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee and colas; they can dehydrate you further.
• Rest, so your body and mind can recover.
• Call the doctor if you have a fever that is not controlled by over-the-counter fever reducers, if you have a severe cough, or if you cannot keep any fluids or food down.
• Stay home rather than coming to community meals and group activities. This will help contain the virus so you don’t spread it to others. All residents can request to have meals delivered to them, even in apartments.