Preventing and Treating Colds and the Flu

By Floria, Barbara 
March 21, 2017

Preventing and Treating Colds and the Flu

Who has time for a cold? But the season for colds and the flu is upon us. The following suggestions can help you prevent them, and treat them if they get you anyway.

Avoiding colds

Colds are spread through the air via coughs and sneezes and through physical contact, especially hand to hand. To avoid catching a cold:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Doing this will kill the cold virus, which can be transmitted from objects such as doorknobs and telephones up to four hours after someone with a cold touches them. The virus can enter your body if you then put your fingers in your mouth or rub your eyes.

  • Disinfect your telephone handset, computer keyboard and other items if someone with a cold has used them. Use rubbing alcohol.

Preventing the flu

Taking the same precautions will help you prevent the flu. You also should get a flu shot each year in October or November.

Rest assured, you can’t get the flu from a flu shot; the vaccine can’t breed the infection because it doesn’t contain a living virus. You can, however, catch the flu shortly after receiving a shot because you don’t build up immunity for up to two weeks after immunization.

Another way to help prevent the flu is to increase the humidity in your home and office. The flu virus survives best in dry conditions, so your body is more likely to flush it out if you keep your nasal and oral passages moist.

Treating colds and flu

You probably have the flu, not a cold, if you have a fever, headaches and body aches in addition to congestion. To treat either condition:

  • Take acetaminophen or aspirin to relieve mild fever and muscle aches. (To avoid the risk of Reye’s syndrome, don’t give aspirin to anyone under age 19.)

  • Treat your symptoms individually by taking the appropriate over-the-counter medications, such as a decongestant, antihistamine and cough medicine.

  • Drink plenty of fluids and get enough rest.

  • Eat healthy foods to help your body combat your illness.

  • Minimize stress; doing so will help your body heal more quickly.

  • Use a humidifier to help break up your congestion.

If you develop a sinus infection, a sustained fever, breathing problems or other complications, see your doctor.


March 21, 2017


Staywell for Life/December 2005

Reviewed By:  

Lee Jenkins