You know the signs: runny nose, sore throat, coughing, and sneezing. It’s the start of a cold or worse—the flu. Each year in the United States millions of people suffer with cold or flu symptoms. Adults get between two and three colds a year on average and kids, well, they can get even more. Though most people tend to get sick in the winter and spring months, it’s possible at any time throughout the year.
How to protect yourself from a cold
Common colds are highly contagious between one and two days before you even realize you’re getting sick and until all of the symptoms are gone. So, the best way to stay healthy is prevention. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for the common cold, but here are a few things you can do to help keep you and your family healthy all season long:
• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water
It’s important to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds every time you wash. This helps ensure viruses that may be living on your hands are washed away. If soap and water aren’t readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth with unwashed hands
Viruses that cause colds and flu can enter the body through the nose, eyes and mouth—making you sick. If you need to touch your face, be sure to wash your hands first.
• Stay away from people who are sick
Anyone who is sick can spread the cold or flu virus through close contact with others. Droplets from a cough or sneeze can spread out to about six feet, so keep your distance if you can.
• Keep your surroundings clean
To keep cold and flu viruses away; sanitize doorknobs, light switches, faucets and other surfaces that are touched at least one a day. This is especially important if you’re a parent or guardian of school-aged children.
How to protect yourself from the flu
Pomona Valley Health Centers (PVHC) recommends getting vaccinated against the flu every year to protect yourself from severe illness. It’s best to get vaccinated before the flu is active in your community because it takes about two weeks for the antibodies (in the vaccine) to fully protect your body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting the flu vaccine by the end of October, though it can be beneficial throughout the entire flu season, even into January or February.
Stay healthy this cold and flu season with help from the skilled doctors at PVHC. We offer walk-in appointments for flu shots at all five of our locations: Pomona, Chino Hills, Claremont, Chino Hills Crossroads and La Verne.