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Staying Healthy During Cold & Flu Season

Staying Healthy During Cold & Flu Season

Tips for Warding Off Illnesses This Winter

Love is in the air this February—but so is the potential for getting sick. With several viral illnesses circulating this time of year, it's important that you do your part in preventing the spread of illness-causing germs and bacteria.

 

The health experts at Campbell County Hospital are here to outline some tips to help keep you and your community healthy all winter long.

Get Vaccinated

Staying up-to-date on your vaccinations is the single best way to protect yourself and others from the seasonal influenza virus. This is because the flu vaccine helps your body to build immunization to the top strains of the influenza virus that are projected to be the most common during flu season.

 

It is advised that you get your flu shot once a year, preferable before the flu season begins in your community. This is because it takes about two weeks for your body to develop antibodies that help your immune system to fight off infection.

Types of Flu Vaccines

The Flu Shots

The flu shot is a form of the influenza vaccination that is administered by needle. There are two different types of flu shots available.

  • Trivalent: Made using an adjuvant (an ingredient that fosters a stronger immune response).
  • Quadrivalent: Made by using viruses grown in eggs.
Nasal Spray Flu Vaccines

The nasal spray influenza vaccine is another form of the flu vaccine, but it is given as an intranasal mist. All nasal spray flu vaccines are quadrivalent.

 

It is important to note that certain people should not get this type of vaccine as it can lead to health complications. If you’re not sure if you should have a quadrivalent vaccine, ask your primary care doctor.

Flu Vaccination by Jet Injector

Jet injector vaccines are administered using a medical device that uses a high-pressure stream of fluid to penetrate the skin rather than using a needle. The AFLURIA Quadrivalent® is the only form of the flu vaccine that is approved for use with a jet injector.

Wash Your Hands Often

Washing your hands is your first line of defense against getting sick during cold and flu season. When following proper handwashing techniques, you are able to effectively ward off illness-causing viruses, reducing respiratory infections, like the common cold and the flu, by 16-19%.

 

Washing your hands is only effective if you follow proper handwashing techniques. Each and every time you go to wash your hands, follow these steps to make sure that your hands are squeaky clean ad germ-free:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water.
  • Lather your hands with antibacterial hand soap, being sure to get between your fingers and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands with clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands with a clean, disposable hand towel.

Wear Your Mask

Another great way to prevent the spread of viral respiratory illnesses is to wear a mask or face covering while in public settings. This includes public transit, gathering, and anywhere else where you may be around other people. While wearing a mask was originally recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it can also help to protect you against other respiratory illnesses like the common cold and the seasonal flu.

 

When choosing your mask, make sure that it has the following qualities to ensure its effectiveness:

  • It has two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric.
  • It completely covers your mouth and nose.
  • It fits snugly against the sides of your face without any gaps.
 

It is also important that you dispose of your disposable masks after use and wash your reusable masks regularly. In fact, it is advised that you wash your cloth mask daily.

Identifying Different Respiratory Illnesses

While it’s already difficult to decipher the flu from the common cold, it is especially important to monitor your symptoms this winter due to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Cold

The common cold, oftentimes just referred to as the cold, is a respiratory infection that can be brought on by several different viruses. While rhinoviruses are the most prevalent, the common cold can also be caused by:

  • Respiratory syncytial virus
  • Human parainfluenza viruses
  • Adenovirus
  • Common human coronaviruses
  • Human metapneumovirus
 

The common cold is typically a mild illness. Symptoms of having a cold include the following:

  • Body aches
  • Coughing
  • Headaches
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat

Flu

Influenza, or the flu, is a respiratory illness that is caused by the influenza virus. This respiratory illness typically involves infection of the nose and throat, but it can also infect the lungs in some instances.

 

While it's possible to get sick with the flu throughout the entire year, there is a spike in flu cases during the fall and winter months—which is why this time of year is often referred to as flu season. There is also an apex in influenza cases during the period between December and February.

 

Depending on the health of the infected individual, the symptoms of the flu can range from moderate to severe and has the potential to even become fatal in some cases. Symptoms of the seasonal flu include:

  • Body aches
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever or feeling feverish
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose

COVID-19

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus—meaning that it was not previously identified in humans. It is important to note that COVID-19 is not the same as the common coronaviruses that cause mild and common illnesses like the cold.

 

The symptoms of COVID-19 range from being mild to severe, with the potential to become fatal. The most commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Coughing
  • Congestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat

CCH is open, safe and ready to see you.

With almost 80 physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners in nearly 20 specialties, CCH is committed to your wellbeing right here at home. If you have been putting off a visit to your doctor for a regular checkup, contact them; they can help weigh your personal healthcare risk and avoid further delayed diagnoses.

 

Visit www.cchwyo.org/findadoc to find your provider or clinic.

 

For medical emergencies, call 911. If you are in crisis and need to talk to a counselor, please call 307-688-5555.