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Help slow the spread of sickness PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

It’s cold and flu season again, so it’s time for a refresher course on what one can do to keep their family healthy.

Most people know colds are less severe than influenza, but they’re often unsure about specific symptoms. For example, the flu is often accompanied by a high fever (between 101 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit), and can cause extreme exhaustion that can last from two to three weeks. A cold usually lasts only a few days.

To avoid using up those sick days, here are some tips to help people avoid colds and flu:

—Become a germ-a-phobe: Maybe one doesn’t need to become a full-blown hypochondriac, but a little fastidiousness in areas of public hygiene can go a long way in avoiding illness this season.

Put distance between oneself and anybody displaying symptoms like coughing or sneezing. Wash hands thoroughly and often, using an alcohol-based sanitizing gel or wipe if water and soap aren’t available. Frequently disinfect high hand-traffic items, such as doorknobs and keyboards.

Be sure to get sufficient rest, exercise and eat right, including plenty of vegetables and fresh fruit. Foods rich in vitamins A, C and E help maintain a healthy immune system.

Most importantly, get the annual flu shot. This year for the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending everyone ages 6 months and older get the flu shot. However, remember it takes a few weeks after getting the shot to begin reaping flu-fighting benefits.

—Give the booster a boost: While most flu vaccines are 70-90 percent effective, efficacy can be less in the elderly or individuals with immune system problems. Either way, people may also want to consider giving the booster shot a boost.

“A unique, natural compound extracted from Japanese medicinal mushrooms, known as AHCC, can enhance the power of the seasonal flu shot. All you need is one gram per day for immune system maintenance and three grams per day when fighting an infection,” says Dr. Lawrence P. Kempf, a New York City internist who recently researched the ability of AHCC to boost the flu vaccine. “AHCC helps increase certain white blood cells, which help the body fight off viruses and infections, and also activates the immune system when the body is under attack.”

AHCC can be easily found at health food stores and natural grocery outlets, and can also be purchased online at

—When necessary, admit defeat: If someone does contract a cold or flu, the best thing to do is stay home and avoid spreading it to others. Rest and plenty of fluids will help the recovery more than work and stress.

It’s also important to take any medications prescribed by a doctor, such as antivirals. Different from antibiotics, antiviral drugs can shorten the time someone is sick and prevent serious flu complications.

And if under the weather, make sure to sneeze into a tissue or elbow to avoid spreading germs to others.

For more tips on staying healthy this cold and flu season, visit or