It's that time of year, when cold and flu viruses are making the rounds. And the only thing worse than being stuck at home sick is being stuck at home sick and with nothing to ease your symptoms. So, we asked Dr. William Dixon of MedPost Urgent Care in Alpharetta to help us put together a cold and flu kit.
If you get sick, Dr. Dixon says, you need to keep in mind two things. He says, "You need to rest. That means your immune system has more to work with. And you need to be well-hydrated."
Staying hydrated will help your immune system fight of the virus. Dixon recommends lots of water. At the grocery store, you may also want to stock up on sports drinks with electrolytes and some chicken noodle soup.
Next, hit your drugstore. Pick up a digital thermometer to allow you to track your temperature. Fever is common with the flu. An OTC pain-reliever like ibuprofen or or acetaminophen can help lower your temperature and ease your body aches. For children, Dr. Dixon says, "I would avoid aspirin, just because of that rare complication called Reye's Syndrome. But if you have no asthma or any other problems, then Advil, Motrin, anti-inflammatories, non-aspirin, would be an option."
You may want to also pick up a cold medication to ease congestion. But, follow the directions, and read the ingredient label to make sure you're not duplicating pain relievers and taking too high a dose.
Grab something for a sore throat -- a nasal spray for a stuffed up nose -- and Mucinex to help break up the congestion in your chest and make your cough more productive.
And, Dr. Dixon says, keep in mind flu and cold viruses are primarily spread through the air...
He says, "You do want to use protection not to make everyone sick. So, cold hygiene Hand hygiene. Covering instead of hand touching, elbow or masks. Or tissue methods. They're all very effective and can help limit the extent that it's spread."
Pick up some tissues and some hand sanitizer to keep you from sharing your misery. And, while most respiratory viruses are treatable at home, Dr. Dixon says watch for complications. See your doctor if your symptoms don't get better after about a week, or you feel better and then suddenly worsen, which can be a sign of a secondary bacterial infection. And he says seek treatment if you're having difficulty breathing.
He says, "So anybody that's breathing fast, fighting for air, having respiratory distress, should go to the ER."