Where I live we recently had our first freeze of the winter. It gets dark earlier now since we “fell back” to standard time. And we’ve already had our first reported cases of influenza, which I reviewed in a previous post.
Chances are you or someone close to you will have a respiratory illness this winter , illnesses we frequently just lump into the category of “colds and flu”. This usually means illnesses with some combination of these symptoms-
- Sneezing, stuffy or runny nose,
- sore throat, hoarseness
- ear pain, fullness
- body aches, fatigue,
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
We call these by various names but they have much in common, including symptoms and treatment. Let’s talk about what you can do to cope when they hit your family.
Most otherwise healthy people recover from common respiratory illnesses. You may be miserable for several days, and need several weeks to feel back to normal, but you won’t suffer any permanent harm.
Fever ,especially in children, alarms parents. Don’t ignore it but don’t panic either. Reading this post should help you keep calm about fever .
Some people are at risk of developing severe symptoms and serious complications from respiratory illnesses, so seek medical help sooner, rather than later. These include
- Infants, especially under one month old
- Elderly, now a relative term, advanced age, especially combined with chronic disease
- Those with chronic lung disease, like asthma, COPD, emphysema, cystic fibrosis
- People on drugs that suppress the immune system
- Other chronic diseases – diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease, cancer
If you are not sure if you fit into one of these categories, ask your doctor.
Check here for tips on
the difference between a cold (acute rhino-sinusitis) and flu (influenza)
What you need to know about influenza.
This is when you shouldn’t share- germs that is. These illnesses spread person to person, so minimize contact.
Keep your kids home from school and stay home from work, at least the first few days, when you are the most contagious. When there is widespread illness in your community, avoid crowds and public gatherings.
Resting, getting extra sleep, drinking fluids and staying warm and dry make staying at home therapeutic.
Speaking of person to person contact, the best way to avoid getting or giving germs is to wash your hands often, but especially after being with others ,using a restroom, and before cooking or eating. Cleaning household surfaces helps too, as well as clothing and linens. Don’t forget to clean your cell phone, tablets, and keyboards too.
Use medication wisely.
Some of these illnesses have a specific medication that clear it faster- strep throat, influenza, pneumonia. The others will “run their course” and meds are used to help relieve symptoms.
Many people assume that any illness with fever, sore throat and cough will improve with an antibiotic. The fact is, most will not. Antibiotics only treat infections caused by bacteria, and most of these are caused by viruses. To learn more read about
How to navigate the antibiotic highway
These illnesses cause the greatest overuse of antibiotics, contribute to the cost of health care, and the development of antibiotic resistance. Please do not insist on an antibiotic if the doctor says you don’t need it; if offered an antibiotic, ask why.
Does nasal drainage and congestion need treatment with an antibiotic?
Maybe not. Learn how to sort out sinusitis.
WebMD offers this advice on choosing non-prescription cold remedies
The “24 hour virus” is for the most part a myth. Expect to be ill anywhere from 3 to 10 days; some symptoms, especially cough, can linger for weeks. If you are a smoker, this is a great time to quit.
But if after 7-10 days you are getting progressively worse, instead of better, something more may be going on, so it’s wise to seek professional medical help.
I would love for you to share this information (but not our germs) on your social media pages.
And follow Watercress Words for more information, instruction, and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH .
My favorite home remedy for a cold is a warm cup of tea,
it always makes me feel better.
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19 thoughts on “How you can cope with winter illness”
Thanks for linking
I’m so glad I found your blog on #BloggersPitStop!!! Now following and shared this post. I have a son with Autism that seems to get sick quite often, this was very interesting. Bookmarked.
Thank you and glad to virtually meet you, Aletha, I look forward to virtually visiting often.
Hope this weekend treats you kindly. 🙂
Hi Darcy, I’m glad too. Thanks for sharing this post, I hope you find more than interest you. Come back often I plan to cover some new info next year.
Thanks Aletha, we will be featuring this post on The Blogger’s Pit Stop
Thank you Kathleen, I’m honored.
With my autoimmune issues I have a hard time getting over colds so I work really hard at preventing them – including washing my hands and taking vitamin D! Thanks for sharing at The Blogger’s Pit Stop! Roseann from http://www.thisautoimmunelife.com
It’s a pleasure to share. Stay well Roseann
Very sensible, Dr Aletha. Will be tweeting this post now as it is so important to get through to people that antibiotics are being overused.
I appreciate your feedback Jean. I am glad that message was clear, thanks for sharing.
This is such informative info. I’m hoping to be able to avoid becoming sick this winter. Anything that will soothe a sore throat is what I like. Throat drops, chicken noodle soup. For congestion: tea, ThermaFlu, and mentholatum rubs. I hope everyone here stays healthy this winter!
I’m glad you find it helpful Natalie. I like those things you suggest-they’re what my mother always did when I was sick, and I still use them.
I am extraordinarily affected beside your writing talents, Thanks for this nice share.
Thank you for reading.