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How to Care for Yourself this Cold and Flu Season

Take Care for Yourself this Cold and Flu Season

Staying Healthy is More Important than Ever

How contagious is the common cold? How do you differentiate the common cold from the flu? And what about the developing variants of COVID-19? Cold and flu season is just around the corner and the added implications of another winter battling coronavirus as we attempt to return to some semblance of normal has everyone looking for ways to stay healthy and care for themselves. Read on for 5 tips.

The Difference 

The primary difference between the cold and flu is a fever. Congestion and coughing can occur with both as can fatigue and body aches. When it comes to COVID-19 and its variants some of the key indicators are a loss of taste and smell and exhaustion that goes beyond the normal fatigue you may be used to experiencing with a cold or flu. It is important to get tested for COVID-19 as variants continue to develop. 

It is also possible that you end up with some other infection that is not a cold or flu. Doctors sometimes refer to this as a viral infection. It may display very similar to the flu, strep, or other illness, but is not coming back as one of the common infections on any lab testing you have done. Typically, with viral infections, you have to let them run their course and hope your immune system does its job.

Fortunately for viral infections, a cold, coronavirus, and the flu, caring for yourself if you fall ill is similar. Rest and fluids are the two primary ways to get healthy. You can also take over-the-counter medicines to treat any symptoms you are having. You can even treat many symptoms with all-in-one medicines like DayQuil or Tylenol Cold and Flu.

Stay Warm

As it cools down and the temperature fluctuates wildly from morning to afternoon, it is important to regulate your body temperature. If you are cold, find ways to warm up:

  • Add layers
  • Throw on a hat
  • Wear slippers
  • Wrap a scarf around your neck
  • Grab a blanket

If you get hot, remove layers, drink ice water, or turn on a fan.

Protect Yourself

An ounce of prevention goes a long way. Wash your hands and carry hand sanitizer for when you do not have access to soap and water. Get vaccinated. Try to live a healthy lifestyle. Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise, and get enough sleep. These simple habits are key to staying healthy no matter what bug is going around.

During quarantine, we found ways to adapt our lives and reduce our contact with other people. Those practices should be continued if you start to feel ill. Do not expose others if you do not have to. Continue to wear a mask. If you are sick, stay home. Many companies have realized the value of telework and may be more willing to allow employees to continue to work from home.

When you start to feel sick, get extra sleep and increase your fluid intake. Do not push yourself because that will only make you sicker longer. Taking the time you need to get some extra rest can often allow your body to fight off the invading germs on its own.

Supplements

Your immune system is a powerhouse, but if you are already run down, it makes it difficult for your body to function optimally. In addition to taking a multivitamin and probiotic, you might want to consider additional supplementation during this season. Certain supplements have been shown to help boost your immune system. If you do not already have these supplements in your vitamin rotation you might want to add them. If you are currently taking these supplements, you may want to increase your dosage, especially if you start to feel sick. Some products have these supplements available together.

  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin C
  • Elderberry
  • Zinc
  • Echinacea

One note about echinacea: it is a valuable supplement if you start to feel sick, but should not be taken continuously. Some lesser-known supplements that may help with immune response are alfalfa, licorice, B complex, and curcumin.

Other Remedies

We all love a cup of tea or bowl of chicken noodle soup when we are starting to feel sick. There is a reason these remedies work well to help us feel better. Ingredients like garlic, lemon, oregano, and honey are commonly found in our favorite sick remedies. Adding lemon and honey to your favorite tea is certain to help your sore throat and ease congestion. 

You can add one drop each of peppermint, lemon, ginger, and oregano essential oils to a cup of hot water and honey for a homemade remedy. Just breathing in the aroma of the oils helps clear the head when you have the sick fog hanging over you. Revive has essential oils that will work best for you. Other essential oils that may help include:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea tree/Melaleuca
  • Lavender
  • OnGuard (A Doterra blend)

If you do not have essential oils, fresh products will work as well, though they may take more time to steep, similar to tea.


Whether you are making chicken noodle soup from scratch or you love Campbell’s, you can increase the benefits of this comfort food by adding garlic, onion, thyme, parsley, and oregano. Of course, fresh options are best but do not discount dried and/or powdered options if that is all you have on hand. 

While everyone knows that vitamin C is important for boosting your immune system, not everyone knows that it is a water-soluble vitamin. This means that whatever your body does not absorb gets flushed out as waste. It is important to take vitamin C throughout the day. There are a lot of foods that are high in vitamin C that you can add to your meals and snacks. We all know about oranges, but read on for more options.

  • Strawberries
  • Green chile peppers
  • Guava
  • Broccoli
  • Kale

Ensuring your diet is full of fruits and vegetables is one surefire way to increase your vitamin intake. 

The internet is full of home remedies and old wive’s tales for ways to help with sickness. There is just enough anecdotal evidence to lend credence to some of these methods. Some methods just make you feel better because they harken back to a time when you were cared for. A comfort connection does quite a bit for your brain in the recovery process. Remedies like Vicks VapoRub on your chest or ice pops for your sore throat feel soothing because of the way they soothed us as children. And we are likely to pass the same remedies on. Some remedies to try include:

  • Sleeping with a half an onion next to your bed
  • Putting garlic in your socks
  • Sliced onion in your socks
  • Steam/Humidifier
  • Warm bath with epsom salt and baking soda and/or essential oils

Nobody wants to get sick. Getting sick is no fun. As an adult, there are even more ramifications when you are out of commission for a day or two. In addition to potentially missing work, there are other responsibilities that have to wait while you recover. The goal is to not get sick, and when we inevitably do, strengthen our bodies in ways to allow them to fight off infection as quickly as possible.

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