Preparing for the Cold and Flu Season.

(Last Updated On: August 17, 2018)

Preparing for the Cold and Flu Season

Part 1 – The Basics

Fall is Here…..And so are Cold and Flu Viruses!

I know, I know,……its only August but the kids are already going back to school from their long summer break which means Fall is just around the corner.  I love fall, the crisp air, the leaves changing colors, pumpkin spice, and Halloween; Fall is probably my favorite season overall.

But with the cool weather comes the Cold and Flu season.  With last years cold and Flu season being especially bad I want to remind you of some of the things that you can do to help prevent the cold and flu and also what you can do if you do get stick.

This is part one of a short series on the cold and flu.  I will cover the basics and some not so basic things you can do to help prevent illness and help you through it when you do get sick.  I want to help you be a little more prepared for this upcoming Cold and Flu season. 

As you know, school seems to be a breeding  and trading ground for germs.  I clearly remember that as a kid I caught a cold most immediately when school started each year, and that each cold seem to last lasted forever.   Looking back I now know that I did a few things wrong when I was younger that made my colds frequent and lengthily.  I didn’t wash my hands as religiously as I do as an adult and I didn’t take time off from school to rest when I was sick.  This made the duration and severity of each cold episode worse.

That being said, I’m here to remind you to not make the same mistakes that I made growing up. I also want to tell you that the most important thing in preventing the common cold and flu is not some magic pill, herb or injection.  It is so basic that is it frequently missed.  You must simply wash your hands frequently to reduce your risk of getting sick and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze so you don’t spread it to anyone  else. There is research that proves that these two simple things are super effective in preventing illness.

Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth with your hands and fingers.

  1. Wash then after you cough, sneeze, blow your nose, open doors, use the bathroom, and before eating.
  2. Wash hands with warm water for at least 20 seconds.

  3. Use plenty of soap, and scrub your hands vigorously because it is the friction and scrubbing that helps loosen the bacteria so you can rinse it away.
  4. Normal soap and water is best. According to a 2007 study the use of antibacterial soaps with triclosan was no better at preventing the spread of illness than regular soap and they contributed to some bacterial resistance to antibiotics.  We want to avoid contributing to antibiotic resistance because when we have an emergency that calls for antibiotics, we want them to work.

  5. Soap and water is better than alcohol based hand sanitizer.  A different study, a 2007 meta analysis (meta analysis means that they have they combine the results of a lot of other peoples research together and then come up with some big picture answers.) determined that hand washing education along with washing hands with soap and water reduced the transmission of respiratory illness by about 21% and gastrointestinal illness by about 31%. They were surprised to find that alcohol based hand sanitizers were not very effective in decreasing respiratory or gastrointestinal illness.

When you are sick avoid contact with people

  1. Cover you mouth using the inside of your elbow when when you cough or sneeze.

  2. Stay home if you can.
  3. Wear a face mask: If you are ill and you must be around people then wear a face mask to prevent the spread of your germs. You can spread your germs up to 6 feet away according to the CDC.

  4. A 2009 study from the Annals of Internal Medicine reveals that when family members of the person with a respiratory illness wore a surgical mask can help reduce the transmission of the flu by 70%when combined with hand washing.
  5. If you are caring for a sick person who is unable to (or won’t) cover their mouth then you should be wearing a face mask.


  2.  Allison E. Aiello, Elaine L. Larson, Stuart B. Levy; Consumer Antibacterial Soaps: Effective or Just Risky?, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 45, Issue Supplement_2, 1 September 2007, Pages S137–S147,
  3.  Allison E. Aiello, Rebecca M. Coulborn, Vanessa Perez, Elaine L. Larson, “Effect of Hand Hygiene on Infectious Disease Risk in the Community Setting: A Meta-Analysis”, American Journal of Public Health 98, no. 8 (August 1, 2008): pp. 1372-1381.
  5.  Cowling BJ, Chan K, Fang VJ, Cheng CK, Fung RO, Wai W, et al. Facemasks and Hand Hygiene to Prevent Influenza Transmission in Households: A Cluster Randomized Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2009;151:437–446. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-151-7-200910060-00142

Look for the next article in this series where I talk about why I avoid over the counter cold medicines and how to make your own at home!


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