A child’s runny nose, a colleague coughing, customers sneezing in the grocery store line behind you – it’s cold and flu season again and conditions are ideal for germs to spread. With millions of Americans infected with the flu each year, dodging those nasty viruses can be difficult. What’s your best defense? Getting your flu shots (both seasonal and H1N1) and a few stay-healthy strategies.

“There is no cure for a cold or flu,” says Susan Kranzpiller, M.D., a family medicine physician with the Providence North Coast Clinic in Seaside. “All you can do to feel better is to rest and treat your symptoms while your body fights off the virus.” In addition to getting your flu shots, Dr. Kranzpiller reminds us that good hygiene habits are essential to protect yourself from getting and spreading viruses. She offers these easy stay-healthy strategies:

Wash your hands

Infectious diseases spread through direct contact with people and contaminated surfaces. Viruses can survive for hours – the more often you wash your hands, the less likely you are to get sick.

Cover your cough

Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.

Don’t touch your face

Germs spread when a person touches a contaminated surface and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.

Practice healthy habits

Eating nutritious foods, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly can boost your immune system to better fight off germs.

Stay home when you are sick.

Adults can be contagious one day prior to becoming sick and for three to seven days after developing symptoms. Children may be contagious for longer than a week.
Antibiotics can’t help cure a cold or flu. However, over-the-counter medicine can help relieve some symptoms. Be sure to read labels carefully or consult your pharmacist or doctor.

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