Health: Keeping germs at bay this cough and cold season

Fall is here, which means cough and cold season is here too.

COVID-19 has completely changed the way we think about germs and illness. Common symptoms of a cough and cold – like sniffles, a cough or sore throat – are no longer just a minor inconvenience. We are all more aware of illness, particularly visible symptoms. Now more than ever, we don’t want to feel ill, and we certainly don’t want to appear ill either to others.

While a cough or cold may seem minor, they can leave us feeling terrible. To help protect you and your family from illness, I’ve put together a few suggestions, including how to treat and manage your symptoms if you do come down with a cold:

• Wear your mask: The pandemic has shown us that wearing a mask, particularly in crowded and public spaces, is a simple and effective way to keep germs away from your nose and mouth. Continue wearing your mask this cold and cough season, and don’t forget to sneeze or cough into your elbow.

• Wash your hands: Washing your hands frequently is one of the best ways to remove germs and prevent the spread to others. Clean hands are a first step in protecting against germs. Make sure you wash your hands for 20 seconds, paying attention to your palms, the back of your hands, between fingers, thumbs and under nails. Try humming or singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to keep track of time. Since washing your hands with soap and water isn’t always an option, I recommend having hand sanitizer containing at least 60 per cent alcohol available as a backup. Keep some in your bag and your little one’s backpack to help keep hands clean on the go.

• Stock your medicine cabinet: Despite our best efforts, sometimes we find ourselves with a cough or cold. If you or a loved one are sick with a cough or cold, an over-the-counter medication can provide fast and effective relief to help you get back to normal. Your local pharmacist can help you find the right medication to address your symptoms. Keeping your medicine cabinet stocked will also ensure you’re prepared to address any cold or cough quickly, so you or your loved one can feel better as soon as possible.

There are many steps we can take to protect ourselves and loved ones this cold and cough season. Don’t forget to visit your local pharmacy to get your flu shot this fall or winter — it’s your best shot at preventing the flu this season.

Todd Prochnau is a Sylvan Lake pharmacist.