Can You Avoid An Infection During Flu Season?
When cold and flu season hits, the likelihood of getting a sinus or ear infection skyrockets. Fortunately, people can take some specific steps to lower the chances of getting sick. Follow these 6 tips to stay well and ward off infection.
1. The importance of moisture
For sinus troubles, using a nasal saline spray several times a day can help to ease sinus pressure. Alternatively, hold a warm, moist washcloth to the face. During flu season, run a humidifier at home to keep the sinuses from drying out.
2. Avoid extremes
This tip can apply to a few different areas. The extreme pressure changes associated with airplane travel can be hard on both the sinuses and ears. Avoiding travel during flu season is the safest bet. But when getting on a plane can’t be prevented, make sure to use a nasal spray or decongestant at least 30 minutes before flying. Other extremes to avoid include temperature extremes and standing up too quickly, which can exacerbate ear problems.
3. Keep the medicine cabinet stocked
During cold and flu season, keep some over-the-counter medications on hand. For relieving minor earaches and headaches, try pain relievers. Over-the-counter decongestants can also help keep symptoms at bay. Stocking up on immune-boosting supplements, such as vitamin C and zinc, is not a bad idea either.
4. Wash up
One of the most significant controllable risk factors in avoiding illness is practicing good hand hygiene. Particularly during flu season, keeping the hands clean helps to prevent the spread of germs. Keep all surfaces around the home, work, and school disinfected, especially when someone is ill.
5. Avoid smoke
Smoking can wreak havoc on the upper respiratory system, as well as most other areas of health. Refraining from smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke can be significant in preventing ear and sinus infections. Patients should also steer clear of other nasal irritants, such as heavy pollution.
6. Manage your triggers
Often, people who have allergies, asthma, or other reactive conditions are more likely to develop ear or sinus infections. Work to manage all triggers, such as dust, pet dander, mold, or cold temperatures. Additionally, taking all allergy or asthma medication exactly as prescribed will help to reduce the likelihood of an infection.
When to see a doctor
Especially during flu season, getting a minor infection is common. Typically, the coughing and sneezing of these infections last for 7-10 days. If symptoms linger beyond 10 days, schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider.