If you get a cold or the flu, here’s how to deal with it | Health and Wellness

Whenever winter rolls around, it is not uncommon to see people who have come down with a cold, the flu or other illnesses.

This is because cold weather tends to add stress to the body, which increases the chance of illness — especially in the very young and the elderly.

“In the young and the old, they should be careful (about going outside)” said Robert Bayles, medical director of primary care at Swedish Redmond Primary Care, adding that when going outside, people should take care to dress warmly and in layers.

Staying indoors also often leads to illness as people are in closer proximity to each other, Bayles said.

So with the risk of getting sick coming from the indoors and out, what can you do to protect yourself?

“The big one is to wash your hands often,” Bayles said.

He said germs are often passed from hand to hand so it is important to wash your hands and use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Another way to avoid passing on germs is sneezing and coughing into your elbow or sleeves instead of into your hands.

Bayles said avoiding being in close proximity of people who are sick is another way to reduce the risk of becoming ill. It is also important to take care of yourself, he said.

“You want to try to decrease your stress level and get enough sleep,” he said.

Staying up to date on vaccinations is also key as childhood vaccinations do not give a person long-term immunity.

Bayles said everyone should get a flu shot, but with other vaccinations, it depends on a person’s age.

People 65 or older or those with chronic medical conditions should make sure to receive the pneumonia vaccine, while it is especially important for children to be receive the Tdap shot, which protects against tetanus (lockjaw), diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

Bayles said the latter can get particularly serious in children. In adults, whooping cough is more of a persistent cough at night that goes on for weeks.

People should also to make sure to have regular check ups with your doctor. Bayles said it could be once a year or more or less, depending on the individual.

“If they haven’t been to (a check up) in a while, they should talk to their doctors,” he said.

Another way to stay healthy includes staying smoke free and avoiding cigarettes. Bayles said for those who do smoke and would like to quit, they can call 1 (800) QUIT-NOW.

Exercise and being active are also important for a person’s health. Bayles said kids and teens should be active at least an hour a day; for adults, that number is an hour and a half per week. He said staying active cuts the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other conditions.

For more information about how to stay healthy and safe, visit

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