Tips to prevent illness and what to do if you think you’re getting sick

The new year provides an opportunity for new beginnings, and one way of ensuring an excellent 2019 is to focus on your health, particularly during cold and flu season.

Dr. Lisa Hoffman, pediatrician at Mercy Clinic Primary Care, said that while there have not been many cases of flu this season, other illnesses are common.

“We’ve seen lots of upper respiratory infections, strep and things like that,” Hoffman said. “That’s all very typical for this time of year. Flu usually hits after Christmas, and we really see our spike in January and February.”

Hoffman said her number one recommendation to everyone is to get a flu vaccine if they have not already done so.

“It’s recommended for everyone ages 6 months and up to get their flu vaccine,” Hoffman said. She especially recommends the vaccine for young children, the elderly, and anyone with a heart or lung disorder because these groups are the most susceptible to catching flu, and often experience its more severe effects. 

Hoffman said good hand hygiene is another effective method of preventing a variety of illnesses, and she recommends frequently washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer. One of her personal tips is washing your hands as soon as you get home.

“When you walk in the door at home, I think it’s a good idea to just wash your hands,” Hoffman said. “That way you’re getting whatever you’ve picked up through the day off there before you go into your home environment.”

For those who think they may already be sick or coming down with something, Hoffman said their best course of action is to stay home.

“Don’t go to work, don’t go to school, and don’t send your kids to school sick,” Hoffman said. “If you’re getting a bad cough, have a runny nose or have a fever just stay home. Try to keep it out of the community.”  She then said that while at home, the best thing a person can do is get plenty of rest and fluids.

“When I say fluids, I mean water, maybe some Pedialyte, those types of things,” Hoffman said. “You can also try taking any of the over-the-counter cough and cold remedies or pain relievers for a couple days to see if they help. Of course, if you’re feeling worse or starting to run a fever, then it might be time to call your doctor.”