January 11, 2016 – The Cold and Flu Season is upon us! So far this year only three Influenza-like illnesses have been reported in the Maryland area. So how do we protect ourselves during this time and lower our risks of getting sick?
Here are my recommendations:
#1: GET VACCINATED
If you haven’t had your Influenza vaccine yet I highly recommend it (if you aren’t allergic to its components like me!). Getting your flu vaccination is important not only for yourself but also for those of us who are unable to get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control is reporting that this year’s vaccine appears to be protective for the anticipated strains for this year.
There are several types of vaccinations:
- Seasonal Flu Shot
- Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine – this is the live version of the flu vaccine
- Quadrivalent Flu Vaccine – it protects against two types of Influenza Type A and two types of Influenza Type B
- Intradermal Flu Vaccine – this one is given in the skin instead of in the muscle and is only for adults 18-64
- Fluezone High-Dose Seasonal Influenza Vaccine – only for those 65 and older
Which one did you get?????
#2: OBSERVE COUGHING ETTIQUETTE
Did you know that there is a right way to cough? Well there is!!
- Cover your mouth AND nose with tissue when coughing or sneezing. If a tissue isn’t handy, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
- Wash your hands after every sneeze or cough with either soap and water or antimicrobial hand gel.
#3: WASH YOUR HANDS! WASH YOUR HANDS! WASH YOUR HANDS!
This is the time of year that I love and hate all at the same time. I love the winter because of the beautiful snow and the crisp air. At the same time I hate what it does to my skin! It’s particularly bad in the winter because I’m always washing my hands, but I’ve learned a few tricks. I use a lot of antimicrobial hand sanitizer in addition to washing my hands to help prevent passing germs from one patient to another. I even wear it around my neck on my doctor’s badge so I always have it with me.
Hand washing/sanitizing is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones!
When you are tired your immune system wears down and it’s harder to fight infection. Sleep is vital to a healthy immune system. Another key to bolstering your immune system is exercise. A common myth is that cold weather causes colds – but that’s not true. When the weather is cold people tend to stay indoors with others, so they are exposed to viruses more often. Fresh air is key. Go out and exercise, but stay bundled up – I don’t want to you get hypothermic either!
Kharia J. Holmes, M.D., is part of Carroll Health Group in Westminster, MD and sees patients in the Carroll Lutheran Village office. She earned her medical degree from Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga., and completed her internal medicine residency and a geriatric fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.