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Home > Health Topics > Podcasts > Home Care and Prevention Tips for Colds and Flu

Home Care and Prevention Tips for Colds and Flu

March 14, 2008

William Walker, MD
Contra Costa Health Services

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Every cold and flu season, I see a lot of patients seeking medical treatment to get relief from the miserable symptoms of colds and flu.

Unfortunately, with the common cold or flu, there isn't much we as doctors can do other than advise our patients to stay home, drink lots of fluids and rest while the illness takes its course.

I'm Dr. William Walker, Director of Contra Costa Health Services, and I'm here to talk to you about preventing the spread of colds and flu and also to give you some home care tips.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine. To help prevent colds and flu, wash your hands frequently, especially after sneezing or coughing and before eating.

Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren't available. Also remember to exercise, get enough sleep, eat healthy foods and don't smoke.

And if you're an employer or a teacher, encourage your employees and students to stay home when they're sick.

If you do get sick, flu and colds can make you feel miserable. Here are some of the home care tips I recommend:

Drink lots of fluids. Fluids, rest and time are the “cure” for a cold or flu, not antibiotics.

To sooth sore throats and coughs, use non-menthol cough drops (menthol dries out the throat) and gargle with salt water. -Over-the-counter or prescription cough suppressants can help sleeping.

To help ease congestion, breathe moist air from a hot shower, humidifier or vaporizor to moisten and soothe the airways. -Nasal saline drops, vapor rub or decongestants also may help.

To reduce fever and pain, use over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen, but avoid aspirin-containing products for anyone under 20 years old.

Remember: always check with your child's health care provider before giving your child any medications, including over the counter medications.

And seek medical attention if symptoms seem severe or don't start getting better in a week or so.

For more information on colds and flu, visit our website Thanks for listening.

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