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Home » Resources » Health » Don’t Let the Flu and Colds Get You Down

Don’t Let the Flu and Colds Get You Down


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February is generally the peak month for flu activity. This season has been dominated by H3N2 viruses, which generally lead to more severe illness. The first defense against the flu is to get a flu shot and you should have done so last fall. However, because the circulating viruses have drifted from the original virus, the vaccine may end up being less effective than in previous years.

While colds can occur any time of year, they tend to be more prevalent and spread easier during the cold months, when people congregate indoors. There are steps you can take to lessen your chance of infection or reduce the length of the time you are ill.


Most flu viruses are not spread directly
by airborne particles from coughs and sneezes, but by contact. Therefore, hand washing is a critical defense in illness prevention. When you are in a public place wash your hands often and avoid touching any part of your face. Carry hand sanitizer for those times when proper hand washing is not possible.

Bar soap is itself an effective breeding ground for all sorts of viruses and bacteria, so stick to liquids when washing up. Hand towels should be changed often for the same reason and, when in public restrooms, use disposable towels or air dryers.

Frequently clean surfaces such as stair rails, telephones, countertops, desks, music stands, and doorknobs. Likewise, clean your mouthpiece each time you handle it and avoid touching the part that will make contact with your lips.

Germs survive better in stagnant air, so whenever possible open the windows and air out your home or practice room. Also, avoid breathing smoke. Smoke is a respiratory irritant and can actually increase your susceptibility to viruses. If you have no choice but to play in a smoke-filled room, be sure to step out for some fresh air during breaks.


Despite our best efforts the average American adult catches about two to four colds a year and 30 to 50 million Americans will come down with the flu. It is almost inevitable that you, or someone close to you, will become sick during the season. Here are some tips to help you get well sooner.

The first step is to determine whether you are dealing with a common cold or influenza. Flu is a contagious illness that can spread quickly from one person to another. It affects the nose, throat, lungs, and other parts of the body, causing mild to severe illness. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu complications, which lead to more than 3,000 deaths each year. Most deaths are in persons 65 and older.

Cold symptoms usually include a runny nose, sneezing, and coughing. Influenza often includes a more severe form of these same symptoms with the addition of one or more of the following: fever, extreme tiredness, sore throat, headache, and muscle aches.

If you think you are coming down with the flu, there are prescription medications, such as Tamiflu, which may reduce the time you are sick, but they must be taken within the first 48 hours of the appearance of symptoms. Beyond that, you may take over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms and make you more comfortable.

There are currently no medications that will cure either colds or flu, but there are other ways to help your body recover. First of all, stay home as much as possible. Not only does your body need plenty of rest, but you also don’t want to spread the illness to the rest of your group or other musicians. Drink plenty of liquids, avoiding alcoholic beverages, which are actually dehydrating.

There are many different types of cold and flu viruses and the length of illness varies. Generally, you should be feeling better in about one week. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms: high or prolonged fever; difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest; near-fainting or fainting; confusion; or severe persistent vomiting you should seek medical care immediately.

Aside from these tips, follow a healthy diet and get enough rest all year long to help build your resistance and shorten recovery time.

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