The ABCs of cold and flu season

Karen Miller and Howard Manly | 1/23/2013, 7:59 a.m.

Get rest, avoid crowds and exercise. Exercise does not prevent infection, but it boosts your immune system so you can ward off severe symptoms.

If you become a statistic, do your part to prevent spreading the flu. Cover your mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough and throw the tissue away. Cough into your elbow if a tissue is not available. If you cough into your hand without the use of a tissue, wash your hands. Surfaces you touch after an unprotected sneeze — including another person — can become contaminated.

If you’re already infected, you are a public health hazard. Stay home and concentrate on getting well instead of sharing your illness. The CDC recommends staying away until your fever is gone for 24 hours without the benefit of fever-reducing medications. Keep in mind that the infectious period for the flu ranges from a day before symptoms surface to about four or five days after they occur.

“Do what your parents told you to do,” said Norman. “Cover your mouth when you cough. Use a tissue and throw it away. Wash your hands and not only when you’re in the shower.”  

This article has been updated. It was first published in October 2009.