We all know the unfortunate truth that as the weather starts to get colder and the winter months draw near, we tend to see an increase in certain illnesses and ailments. Whether a mild sore throat or a more serious illness such as the flu, below are a few suggestions for staying healthy and prepared until the warmer months arrive.
If you have chronic health conditions, or are taking medication, check with your provider before using any over-the-counter medication. As always, remember that good handwashing is the first line of defense in avoiding the common cold!
Fighting the common cold
An upper respiratory infection, or URI, is an infection of the nose, sinuses, or throat. URIs are spread by coughs, sneezes, and direct contact. The common cold is the most frequent kind of URI. The flu and sinus infections are other kinds of URIs. Almost all URIs are caused by viruses and antibiotics won’t cure them. You can treat most infections with home care, including drinking lots of fluids, getting adequate rest and taking over-the-counter pain medicine. You will probably feel better in 4 to 10 days. It is important to note that any cough that lasts more than one week or is accompanied by a fever may be a sign of a more serious illness and should be discussed with your physician.
- Saline or salt water nasal spray moisturizes dry sinus cavities, loosens nasal congestion and removes debris from the nose. This helps to keep your nasal passages open and wash out any mucous or bacteria. You can purchase these at your local pharmacy or you can make your own at home by adding 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 2 cups of distilled water. If you make your own, fill a bulb syringe with the solution, insert the tip into your nostril, and squeeze gently. Blow your nose after use.
- Dextromethorphan (Robitussin): a cough suppressant that is frequently used to temporarily control cough due to common colds. This medication is best for a dry, hacking cough.
- Guaifenesin (Mucinex): an expectorant that can be taken to thin secretions associated with chest congestion and a nagging, “wet” cough productive of phlegm.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) a must-have to reduce fever or body aches and pains that can come with a cold or flu. Be sure to read and follow all instructions on the label.
- Loratidine (Claritin) an antihistamine that is taken by mouth and can help to relieve sneezing and runny nose. This medication tends to be less sedating than other allergy medications such as Benadryl.
- Fluticasone (Flonase): a nasal steroid spray that helps to decrease inflammation within the nasal passages. May cause nasal irritation and nosebleeds.
- Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed): We advise you to consult with your physician before taking this medication. If you have high blood pressure or an existing heart condition, DO NOT take this medication. Pseudoephedrine is an oral decongestant that can help to shrink swollen blood vessels and tissues and help you breathe better through a congested nose. Although most people without existing medical conditions can take this medication without issue, there are side effects and we advise you to consult with your physician before taking this medication.
- A thermometer: to monitor body temperature.
- Throat lozenges, preferably with an anesthetic property, to soothe the pain with a sore throat.
Dry winter skin
- A thick moisturizer or petroleum jelly: applied immediately after bathing can help ward off winter eczema or the dry, irritated skin that comes along with the cold days of winter.
- Hydrocortisone cream is also good to have available for itchy, dry, scaly patches that don’t respond to moisturizing cream.
- Lip moisturizer is also very useful during this time of the year.
Get your vitamins
- Vitamin D: With the shorter days of winter comes less sun exposure. Vitamin D is produced in the body in response to the absorption of UVB rays from the sun. If you are not spending enough time outdoors during the winter months, talk to your primary care provider about a dose recommendation based on your vitamin D level. Vitamin D deficiency can manifest itself as fatigue, poor bone health and a low mood.
*Synergy Private Health (SPH) is acting on behalf of your physician and your physician’s medical practice, pursuant to a Business Associate Agreement (as defined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as amended (“HIPAA”)), to assist your physician in informing you about exciting health and wellness-related products or services provided or offered by or on behalf of your physician or other information related to your care that is referenced in this blog post.
The content and opinions expressed herein are to inform SPH Members on health and wellness issues. Nothing in the content or opinions herein should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice. This does not constitute the practice of any medical, nursing or other profession, healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always talk to your healthcare provider regarding your specific medical needs. Contact your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions regarding personal health or medical conditions. If you have or believe you may have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified healthcare professional immediately. If you are in the United States and are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.