Sports & Fitness

Cold and Flu Season

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Once you have a cold or flu, there is no cure # the illness has to run its course. But the good news is that there are ways to reduce your risk of being affected.

#Colds and flu are spread commonly through close contact with an infected individual,# said Rosalie Whisenant, infectious disease control director of Emory Eastside Medical Center. #Cold and flu season occurs not because of the weather, but because people come into close contact, at such places as school or work, and increase the likelihood of viruses being spread.#

These viruses are passed from one individual to another via hand-to-hand contact, contact with a surface containing a live virus or through inhalation of viruses that become airborne through sneezing.

To help fight colds and flu:

Wash your hands frequently.

Avoid any physical contact with individuals you know to be infected.

In homes where someone has a cold or the flu, clean countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms frequently. A mixture of bleach and water helps sterilize surfaces.

Avoid dry air by using a humidifier. Dry nasal passages are vulnerable to viruses.

Get a flu shot, especially if you#re elderly or have chronic cardiovascular or pulmonary disorders.

#Even if you follow all of these steps, a cold or flu is almost certain to strike at some point,# according to Earl Grubbs, M.D., medical director of Emory Eastside#s Emergency Department.

The National Institutes of Health reports that in some years, Americans collectively suffer from more than a billion cases of cold or flu. That#s about four infections for every man, woman and child in the nation!

If you become infected, get lots of rest, drink plenty of liquids, use decongestants for a stuffy or runny nose, take over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve aches, pains and reduce fever and use cough suppressants. Gargling with warm salt water can help relieve sore throat pain.

Flu symptoms include high fevers, body aches, headaches, nasal congestion, sore throat and cough. Untreated, these symptoms should resolve in four to seven days. The course of illness can be shortened by two to three days if the appropriate prescription medication is started within the first 48 hours.

The same medications do not work for the common cold. Fortunately, a cold usually doesn#t have the high fevers or body aches; however, symptoms can last one to two weeks.

As grandmother always told you # an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. #In other words,# said Dr. Grubbs, #get your flu shot and wash your hands.#

For more information, call Emory Eastside at 770-979-0200 or visit