Back to Living Better

5 ways to prevent the cold and flu this holiday season

No one wants to sneeze and sniffle their way through the holidays, so follow these tips from Rashi Patel, M.D., a primary care physician at Piedmont, to stay healthy this winter. 

5 ways to prevent the cold and flu

There are five key ways to boost your immune system and fend off illness, says Dr. Patel:

  1. Eat healthy meals and avoid foods that compromise your immune system

  2. Exercise regularly: Aerobic exercise increases your body's virus-fighting cells. Try these tips to squeeze in a workout no matter how busy your schedule.

  3. Sleep well: Most adults need between seven and nine hours a night. Make the most of your zzz's with these 10 tips for better sleep.

  4. Practice hand hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It is especially important to wash up before preparing food, eating and touching your face. You should also wash your hands after using the restroom, coughing, sneezing and being around someone who is ill.

  5. Get vaccinated this year: A yearly flu shot not only protects you, it protects others from the potentially deadly flu virus.

Why are we more likely to get sick in the winter?

Catching a cold or the flu during the holidays is not only inconvenient, unfortunately, it's also common.

"While there's no definitive answer to why the cold and flu are so common during winter months, there are some theories: the rhinovirus [cold virus] replicates better at lower temperatures and people are in close quarters more often than in other seasons, which increases the risk of spreading viruses," explains Dr. Patel.

When to see a doctor if you get sick

See your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you have the flu. He or she can test you for the virus and may prescribe a medication to shorten the lifespan of your illness.

There isn't much you can do to treat a cold besides resting and staying hydrated, but see your doctor if you have symptoms that don't go away or worsen after seven to 10 days.

If you do come down with the cold or flu virus, antibiotics will not help because they fight bacterial infections, not viruses.

"Over-prescribing antibiotics is actually hurting our immune systems because this can lead to bacterial resistance, which makes it harder for us to treat bacterial infections in the future," says Dr. Patel.

Flu shots are available at Piedmont’s urgent care locations, primary care offices and Piedmont QuickCare at Walgreens locations.   

Dr. Patel practices at Piedmont Physicians Buckhead, located at 35 Collier Road Northwest, Suite 775, Atlanta, GA 30309. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Patel or one of our other primary care providers. Save time, book online.

Related Stories

Schedule your appointment online