Protect yourself and your family from colds and flu

Prevent the spread of germs and take care to avoid illness.

The cooler weather is approaching and it’s important to protect yourself from germs so that you don’t get sick.  However, it’s also important to understand the difference between a cold and the flu so you can take care of yourself. Michigan State University Extension recommends that you do what you can to limit your risk of getting sick, even though it can’t always be avoided.

First, you need to understand the difference between the flu and a cold. The chart below shows that although the symptoms are similar they are more severe in the case of the flu versus the common cold. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can provide more specific information about the flu and colds.

Flu Symptoms Cold Symptoms
Fever Little or no fever
Body aches Some or no body aches
Extreme tiredness Mild tiredness
Dry, often intense cough Mild cough

To prevent the spread of the cold and flu germs you can follow these steps:

  • Wash your hands well and wash often.  The best way to clean your hands is to use soap and warm water, but if that’s not an option hand sanitizer is your best substitute.  Make sure that all of the adults and kids in your home are washing their hands regularly.
  • Cover your cough and your sneeze.  Sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue, tossing the tissue in the trash. Wash your hands after, if possible.
  • Avoid hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • If you are sick, stay home. The less interaction with others, the more time to rest. You will also prevents germs from spreading.
  • Avoid contact with individuals who are sick, or at least limit your contact as much as possible.Disinfect and take care.  Germs can be found on commonly touched surfaces. Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, telephones and computer keyboards frequently. 

To further lessen your chances of illness, be sure to take good care of your body.  You can do this by eating healthy meals, being physically active and getting plenty of sleep at night.  Taking steps to make sure germs don’t spread at home or work and also doing what you can to keep your body healthy will help you fight germs that you will come in contact with and stay healthy this cold and flu season.

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