Your Ultimate Cold and Flu Survival Guide
While viruses can attack year-round, colds, flus and other respiratory illnesses are typically more prevalent during fall and winter. People spend more time indoors, which allows viruses to pass more easily from one person to another. The cold, dry air can also affect the respiratory system, making it more susceptible to germs. According to the CDC, flu activity in the U.S. often begins to increase in October and peaks between December and February. “Flu season” can last as late as May. When it comes to the cold and flu, prevention and preparation are key. Getting the flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine is the first and most crucial step in protecting against these two respiratory illnesses. Preventative actions, such as washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and getting enough sleep can also help you avoid getting sick. However, despite your best prevention efforts, the time may come this winter when you start to feel a little scratch in your throat or a fever coming on. By taking steps ahead of time to assemble a cold and flu survival kit, you’ll be more prepared for whenever illness strikes, allowing you to stay home, rest and avoid spreading germs. Tips for Managing Symptoms Keep these tips in mind to ease your cold or flu symptoms: Stay home and rest Drink plenty of fluids Treat aches and fever with over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen Manage a cough with over-the-counter expectorants or suppressants Run a humidifier or sit in a steamy bathroom to ease congestion What to Stock in Your Flu Survival Kit Be ready when a cold or the flu strikes by having a flu survival kit filled with these get-well essentials stocked in your pantry, fridge and medicine cabinet: Over-the-Counter Medications: Take advantage of over-the-counter medications to make yourself feel better and ease most common flu symptoms of fever, headache, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, and runny or stuffy nose Pain relievers - Ibuprofen (Motrin and Advil) or Acetaminophen (Tylenol): for fever and aches Decongestants: for sniffles and congestion Cough expectorant (guaifenesin): for a “wet” cough to help clear secretions from the lungs Cough suppressant (dextromethorphan/DM): for a severe “dry” cough to block the cough reflex Cough syrups and drops Drinks: Water Herbal tea Low-sugar sports drinks Pedialyte Foods: Chicken soup Broth Vitamin C-containing fruits and vegetables Oatmeal Toast (add some avocado, honey or egg) Miscellaneous items: Tissues Lozenges Protective mask Thermometer Humidifier When to Seek Care and Where to Go Most healthy adults who have a cold, the flu, or other mild respiratory illnesses don’t need to see a care provider and will recover at home with self-care measures. Because these are viral illnesses, antibiotics won’t work against treating them. Your care provider may be able to prescribe an antiviral medication that can relieve your symptoms and shorten the duration and severity of your illness; however, this needs to be started within 48 hours of symptom onset and is often only prescribed to individuals at high risk for developing complications from the flu or those experience severe symptoms. Primary Care or Urgent Care Contact your primary care provider or visit an Urgent Care if you are at an increased risk, including those who: Are 65 years of age or older Have chronic medical conditions Are pregnant or recently gave birth Have a weakened immune system Find a primary care provider If you are otherwise healthy and not at increased risk of complications, seek medical advice if your flu symptoms are unusually severe, such as mild difficulty breathing, a severe sore throat, coughing that produces a lot of green or yellow mucus, or feeling faint. Emergency Care Go to the Emergency Department if you are experiencing emergency warning signs such as severe pain (chest, abdomen), concern for heart attack or stroke (slurred speech, new localized weakness), severe dehydration (needing IV fluids) or severe shortness of breath.
Tips for Coping with Smoke-Related Health Problems
Millions of people across the west live in areas where air pollution can cause serious health problems. In addition, local air quality can affect our daily lives. Who is Affected? Kouros Farro, MD, a physician with Renown Urgent Care, advises that certain people are more likely to be affected when fine particle pollution reaches an unhealthy level. People who have asthma or other breathing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). People who have heart disease or high blood pressure. Children and older adults. People of all ages who are doing extended or heavy physical activity like playing sports or working outdoors. “Everyone should take precautions when the air quality is unhealthy. Air pollution can aggravate heart and cardiovascular disease as well as lung diseases like asthma and COPD. When the air quality is unhealthy, people with these conditions may experience symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or fatigue. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, use your inhalers as directed and contact your health care provider,” says Dr. Farro, who is board certified in family medicine and practices at Renown Urgent Care at 975 Ryland St. in Reno. “If you do not have a health care provider, there is a Renown Urgent Care office on almost every corner, with providers ready to see you.” Dr. Farro advises the following: Take it easy and listen to your body. Limit, change or postpone your physical activity level. If possible, stay away from local sources of air pollution like busy roads and wood fires. If you have asthma or other breathing conditions like COPD, make sure you have your relief/rescue inhaler with you. People with asthma should review and follow the direction in their written asthma action plan. Make an appointment to see your health provider to be sure you have an asthma action plan. Getting Same-Day Care Renown Urgent Care provides same-day treatment for a wide range of minor injuries, illnesses and medical concerns that are urgent but not life-threatening. Avoid the long wait times and high emergency room prices at 11 convenient sites, including Reno, Sparks, Carson City, USA Parkway, Fallon and Fernley. You can walk in or book ahead online. Make an Urgent Care Appointment Community Health Resources The Washoe County Health District offers online health information on its Smoke Smart website, including fire information, daily air quality information, fire and smoke maps and how to protect yourself. In addition, an online subscription page allows you to sign up for EnviroFlash, notifying you about air quality.
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