Cold and flu season has arrived. The most efficient way to minimize your risk of "catching" a cold or the flu is to prevent the spread of germs. Do this by washing your hands after touching a public surface such as a door knob or using a public restroom. Public surfaces are covered with a variety of germs. The surface may look clean to the naked eye but microscopically it is contaminated. Cover your mouth with a tissue or the bend of your arm when sneezing or coughing. Bacteria and viruses can spread by airborne mucous droplets. It is easy for an individual in the proximity of the droplets to inhale them. Typically, the germ inhaled will settle in the lower or upper respiratory tract.
Those who are immunocompromised, age 65 or older, in frequent contact with public areas, parents who have young children at home should be vaccinated. Minimize contact with people you know are sick. The influenza vaccine prescribed this year will provide protection against 3 influenza viruses: A H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that emerged in 2009 which caused a pandemic.
Know the symptoms that accompany a cold vs flu. A cold lasts 2-7 days with a runny nose, cough, sore throat. Flu symptoms are headache, muscle aches in legs and back, fever, chills, congestion lasting longer than 7 days.
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN