How to Survive a Cold or the Flu

Tis the season for…Achoo! …Cold and Flu Season.

Knock on wood. No one here has contracted any viruses despite the numerous times we’ve interacted with people or shopped in the last few weeks.

The flu virus can survive up to 24 hours on hard surfaces. That might not seem like a long time but think of all the things you touch in a 24 hour period. Door knobs, faucets, cell phones, appliances, tv remotes, bed linens and counter tops. And that’s just in your home.

What about all the things other people have touched at the office, the store, restaurants and movie theaters? Think of every door handle, hand rail, and money that exchanges hands. It’s enough to keep you paranoid if you think about it.

To me, it’s always felt like roulette. You just never know when you’ll come across a virus or bug that will hitch a ride on your hands. In the past few weeks I’ve been around way more people than usual. I’ve been in a lot more stores and other people’s homes. People have been in my home too.

We all know the obvious tips to stay healthy–washing our hands, but what other stopgaps can we use?

Alcohol: I should buy stock in alcohol, the rubbing kind, not the drinking kind. I keep a bottle in the kitchen and in my bathrooms. Whenever guests leave, I do a thorough wash with alcohol on every touchable surface.

Avoid people: Easier said than done, but if you’re in a region that has been hit with an epidemic, it’s safer to ride it out at home. If you must go out for work or school, wash your hands often. Don’t be embarrassed to wear a dust mask, especially if you have to negotiate through large crowds. Your health comes first.

Antibacterial towelettes: I keep these in my purse and in my car. If I go shopping and then stop for lunch somewhere, I’ll either wash my hands or use one of these towelettes before I chow down.

What if you contract the plague despite your best efforts?

I can personally recommend Oscillococcinum. My body has a bad habit of NOT cooperating with most over-the-counter drugs. But this one works. It’s been great at keeping flu symptoms manageable. I swear by this one.

Another good product on the market is Emergen C.

The last product I can recommend is Echinachea. I don’t know one brand from another, but I’ve always used Nature’s Bounty with good results.



It’s easy to get sick, but hand washing and alcohol can fight off a lot of ills.

Stay well, and stay warm…unless you’re in Australia, in which case, stay cool. 🙂

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  1. We keep hand sanitizer in the car and use it whenever we get back in it after returning from the grocery store, the library etc.

    We usually try to just ride out a cold if possible, but sometimes we use medicine. I’m making a note of that Oscillococcsinum.

    • Madeline: With any virus, all you can do is treat the symptoms. They do have some drugs that can shorten the period, but only if you catch it early enough. By the time I feel I have to go to the doctor, I’m way past the saving stage. 🙂

  2. Thank you for those drug tips, Maria. I’ll look out for Oscillococcsinum. – don’t know whether we get it here. We do have an epidemic of Aussie Flu. It’s affecting every county in the country. As you say, Roulette. .

    • Mike: I really do think it’s roulette. Do you have immunity against that strain or this one? You never know, and there are so many varieties.

      re: Oscillococcinum
      I highly recommend it, Mike. It’s the only thing that’s given me some relief even through the worst cases of flu. Oscillococcinum during the day and Nyquil at night.

  3. The family chides me about how often I wash my hands, and my dedication to winter flu shots, but I don’t catch colds and I haven’t had the flu in thirty years or so (and I’m the nurse around here, so I’m exposed to it almost annually.) Another common way people get infected is by rubbing their eyes with their fingertips, or so my doc says. I always wash up before I touch my face anywhere. I also have a big glass of grapefruit or orange juice every morning for the vitamin c boost.

    I tend to stay home during cold and flu season and avoid crowds when possible. If I can’t, I do wear washable gloves, a scarf I can pull up like a mask. Mostly I try to dodge the obvious sneezers, coughers etc. It’s amazing to me that sick people insist on going out to an event without thinking about who they might infect. I keep everyone home when they’re contagious.

    I keep things clean at home, but I do take hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes when we travel and have to stay in hotels. I always wipe down the room’s phone and TV remote, and all the fixtures in the bathroom. I go the extra step of bringing my own pillows, too. You just never know who was there and what bugs they were carrying the day before you arrived. 🙂

    • Lynn: you have such good ideas! I never think about wiping down a hotel room. I do hate sleeping on their bed sheets though after all the horror stories I’ve read about hotels. I bring my own pillow because I’m particular about pillows.

      I hadn’t thought about touching my eyes, but that makes perfect sense. I am bad about touching my eyes too.

      I get the flu maybe every ten years. My real nemesis is bronchitis. I’m pretty susceptible to that too. I usually contract it cleaning out chicken coops so I wear a mask before I do a big clean out.

  4. Jenny Schwartz

    Happy to send you all some of our Aussie sunshine 🙂 Flu sucks. I’ve noticed it often hits when I’m stressed, making the stressful situation worse!

  5. Angela Brown

    Although I don’t interact directly with patients, I work for a hospital so each year we are required to get the flu shot. I also do the flu shot for my kiddo.

    The advice you provide and that is provided in the comments is very helpful. One thing I’ve noticed is that each year, even with diligence, people get the flu, and in many cases, are diagnosed with a strain that is stronger than the one for which they were vaccinated.

    • Angela: The reason people get the flu even if they’ve been vaccinated is that every year the World Health Organization collaborates with other centers to decide which virus will be most prevalent in the coming year. Sometimes they’re wrong. Sometimes they’re right and we just happen to contract a less expected variety.

      It’s roulette, plain and simple. All we can do is keep our immune system up so we can fight off anything that heads our way.

      At least it’s better than how it was a hundred years ago. Millions died of the Spanish flu.

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