Prevent the cold and flu this season

First snowfalls, holiday preparations and the beginning of basketball and hockey seasons might be fun, but they signal the onset of a dreaded annual occurrence: cold and flu season.

The cold can happen year-round, but the flu is generally seasonal and can be more harmful. The first step to prevent the flu is getting the vaccination in the fall. There are four more campus flu clinics providing free shots to faculty and staff until November 16.

Both the common cold and the flu are caused by viruses that pass from person to person through droplets made when people with the illness cough, sneeze or talk. According to the CDC, people infected with the flu may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. Here are a few other everyday habits that will help to prevent you or someone else from catching a cold or the flu:

  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

    Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds to kill germs
    Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds to kill germs
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

It’s also important to keep your immune system strong by taking care of yourself with by getting plenty of sleep, eating fruits and vegetables, exercising and managing stress.

In addition, if you or your child gets sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you or your child stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Read more about the symptoms and treatments of the cold and flu here.

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