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Quick Protection Tips

For Cold and Flu Season

Preventing colds and flu from getting the best of you doesn’t have to be complicated. Vicks has compiled variety of different tips to help you handle the season.

Cold and Flu Prevention

Keep Hands Moisturized to Help Keep Out Germs

Be sure to moisturize your hands regularly, as small cracks in dry skin can be entry points for unwanted germs, including cold and flu viruses.

Don’t Trust Warm Water to Wash Away Germs

New studies have revealed that washing your hands with warm water alone has virtually no effect on germs. You also need to use soap to kill potentially harmful germs.

Try to Stay at Least Six Feet from Anyone With the Flu

It's best to stay six feet away from someone who has the flu. The virus spreads through droplets that are expelled during talking, coughing, and sneezing. Keeping that six-foot boundary can help keep any stray drops from landing near you.

Make Sure Your Sanitizing Gel Had Completely Dried

When using a sanitizing gel, continue to rub your hands until they are completely dry. Germs can attach more readily to—and multiply more quickly on—moist surfaces, especially your hands.

Keep Your Immune System Healthy

The best way to protect yourself against common cold symptoms is to keep your immune system healthy. To keep your immune system at its strongest, eat healthy foods and get a full night’s rest as often as possible.

Is It OK to Kiss If You Have a Cold?

Yes! Surprisingly, kissing is not a very easy way to become infected. Kissing studies have shown that only 8 percent of people kissed by infected partners got colds.1

1 Lorber, B, Perspectives: the common cold, Journal of General Internal Medicine, April 1996; 11: 229-236.

Know If They’re Allergy or Cold Symptoms Right Now

Allergy symptoms almost never cause aches, pains, or fever. Colds do. On the other hand, cold and flu symptoms rarely include itchy eyes or frequent sneezing, which are common allergy symptoms.2

2 Stanford University Medical Center

What Exactly Is a “Stomach Flu”?

The “stomach flu” is actually a gastrointestinal infection commonly caused by a virus or bacteria. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a gastrointestinal infection can include severe nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. The single best treatment is slow and deliberate rehydration. Think lots of fluids—water and sports drinks along with ice chips.

Don’t Fear the Flu Shot

A flu shot won’t give you the flu.4 In rare situations, the injection could cause fever or muscle aches, but these minor symptoms typically clear up in a day or two. If the symptoms do not clear up within a few days or get worse, you might be experiencing an allergic reaction. In this case, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

4 The American Lung Association

It’s OK If Your Child Keeps Coughing

Parents can start to worry if their child’s cough lingers. However, be prepared for a cough to linger after cold or flu symptoms have stopped. If your child is age appropriate, consider cough drops or a cough suppressant. It’s OK to treat coughs with an over-the-counter medicine for up to seven days (refer to package label for details). If it has been longer than seven days, contact your doctor.

Know When It Could Be Pneumonia

Fifty percent of all cases of pneumonia are caused by a viral infection, which cannot be cured by an antibiotic. However, another type of pneumonia is caused by a bacterial infection that can be treated with an antibiotic. Either way, watch for these two symptoms: chest pain that gets more severe as you breathe, and high fever that causes excessive chills or sweating.5 Pneumonia is a serious respiratory illness. If you think you or a family member might have pneumonia, consult a doctor immediately.

5 The American Lung Association

Treat Allergies to Reduce a Cold’s Chances

In 2006, a French study 6 showed that seasonal allergies (basically your typical allergy symptoms) greatly disrupted sleep patterns and sleep quality, even if the patients didn’t wake up. A lack of quality sleep can disrupt the effectiveness of your immune system and make you more susceptible to cold or flu viruses. If you seem to get colds more often than other people, consider getting an allergy test to determine if this could be one of the sources of your increased susceptibility.

6 Archives of Internal Medicine. 18; 166 (16):1744-8. Sep 2006.

Add Humidity to Fight Cold Viruses

Cold viruses thrive in dry, winter air. Keeping your indoor humidity levels between 40 and 60 percent is recommended to help slow the spread and growth of these viruses, plus it helps maintain a more comfortable environment for you and your family. Consider a Vicks® humidifier to help you make it through cold and flu season.

Know How Often Colds Might Stop In

It is estimated that adults will suffer two to four colds per year, and children could suffer up to 10 colds annually.4 In fact, on average, people have a cough or cold for 2-1/2 years of their lives.

4 Common Cold, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health; Retrieved 21 May 2009

Clean and Healthy

Keep Your Humidifier Clean

During the winter months—the height of cold and flu season—you should clean your humidifier every three days and change the water every day.8

8 The National Institutes of Health

Keep Cleaning the Stuff You’re Using

Get into the habit of cleaning the stuff you AddThis with others, such as computer keyboards, phones, remote controls, countertops, and more to prevent the spread of cold and flu. And remember—germs love money as much as we do, so wash your hands after those ATM pit stops.

Follow Hand-Washing Basics

Hand-washing is so important that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made official guidelines! 7 The CDC advises you to wash with soap and warm water, while scrubbing vigorously for at least 15 seconds.

7 National Institutes of Health;

Know When to Wash Your Hands

To help prevent the spread of cold and flu germs, wash your hands at the following times: after petting an animal, after using any AddThisd gym equipment, and before and after eating, treating a cut, removing your contacts, and touching doors in high-traffic areas.9

9 The Mayo Clinic

Trust Good Old Soap

Antibacterial soaps are convenient and certainly have their place, but they’re no more effective than regular soap at killing germs.10 Feel free to use good regular soap with water. When regular soap and water aren’t available or convenient, consider using a hand sanitizer.

10 The Mayo Clinic

Staying Healthy

Be Aware That a Flu Vaccine Won’t Protect You from a Cold

Getting a flu vaccination before flu season protects only against the pathogens of influenza. Unfortunately, there is no vaccination for the common cold. The best method of prevention is maintaining a healthy immune system.

Get Older; Get Stronger!

According to Professor Ron Eccles, when it comes to the elderly, “The production of antibodies to the viruses that they have encountered over the years increases.” That means that once you have built up your immunity to some strains of cold viruses, you might become infected with the same strain again, but your immune system handles the encounter so quickly that you never feel the symptoms.

Take Cover from Coughs and Sneezes

Cold viruses enter our bodies in two ways:11,12,13

  • Through the tiny droplets that are aerosolized by coughs or sneezes. After a sneeze, the droplets can carry germs through the air that others can inhale. Fortunately, these droplets gradually fall out of the air.

  • Through direct contact with contaminated hands or surfaces. This is believed to be the more common way we catch a cold.

11 Tyrrell, D, Fielder, M, Cold Wars: The Fight Against the Common Cold, Oxford University Press, 2002.

12 Treanor, J, Hayden, F, Infectious Diseases of the lungs—Viral Infections, Textbook of Respiratory Medicine, 3rd Edition, W. B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, 1988; 1: 932.

13 Turner, RB, Hendley, JO, virucidal hand treatments for prevention of rhinovirus infection, Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 2005; 56, 805-807.

Sleep Off a Cold

Not getting enough sleep decreases your immune system’s ability to fight off a cold.14 Try to get a consistent six to eight hours of sleep every night.

14 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Don’t Worry About Winter

Cold weather doesn’t give you a cold.15 However, spending more time indoors causes you to breathe more germ-infested air, which likely contributes to why you get sick more often in the winter.

15 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Use Antibiotics Appropriately

Unless you’re diagnosed with a bacterial infection, avoid asking a doctor to prescribe antibiotics for cold or flu symptoms. Antibiotics are ineffective in treating viral infections such as cold and flu viruses. Also, the overuse of antibiotics can give rise to antibiotic-resistant germs.

Fight Off Germs in an Airplane

Keep germs at bay by washing your hands often. (Here’s where a bottle of hand sanitizer can come in real handy when regular soap and water aren’t available or convenient.) And be sure to drink lots of water to combat the super-dry, pressurized air.

Healthy Expectations

Be Patient; We Get Well Gradually

Generally speaking, a normal cold or flu lasts around five to seven days.17 On these occasions, use Vicks® over-the-counter cold, cough, and flu medicines to help relieve cold and flu symptoms. However, if you don’t start to feel better after a week, experts recommend that you seek medical attention.

17 U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Know Your Gender’s Sick Days

On average, women have six bed-sick days a year. Interestingly, men average four.18 Regardless, we’re not alone in our misery. As a result, Americans alone report 1 billion colds and miss more than 50 million workdays and 60 million school days every year.

18 The 2006 National Center for Health Statistics Survey for U.S. Adults