Holiday Flu Prevention Tips From the Pharmacist

tissue box, thermometer, and flu medication
Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Posted on

The holidays usually mean spending time with close friends and family, and flu season. As a pharmacist, I often see patients coming in for help choosing the best over the counter medication to help them get better faster. But during cold and flu season, prevention is key.

No one wants to sneeze and cough their way through the holidays. Here are five tips to help you stay healthy this winter season.

Get vaccinated

It’s always better to prevent a problem rather than try to fix the issue after it occurs, and illnesses are no different. The creation of vaccinations has helped prevent and almost eliminate diseases some dangerous diseases in the United States like polio, measles, and mumps. Vaccinations can also help prevent year-round seasonal issues like the flu or pneumonia.

Getting your flu shot is pretty easy these days. You can just walk into your local pharmacy, no appointment required, and walk our protected. There are different types of flu and pneumonia vaccines so consult with your doctor or pharmacist to find out which one is right for you.

Don’t use antibiotics unnecessarily

Antibiotic resistance is a common issue these days. Unlike many other types of medications, the research and development of new antibiotics has been limited, so the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that patients do the following to prevent antibiotic resistance:

Treat your symptoms

If you feel as though you are getting sick, you can try to “nip it in the bud” by treating your symptoms with over the counter medications. Some common OTC medications include cough drops, throat sprays, nasal sprays, cough and cold medicine, and eye drops.

Stock up on products that can be purchased with your FSA

A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a special account that you can contribute pre-taxed money to. This can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses of other eligible expenses.

FSAs are limited to $2,600 per year, per employer, and these funds typically expire within the plan year whether you use all of the money or not. Now is a good time to spend any money that you have left on your FSA, by stocking up on the eligible items like over the counter medications, blood pressure monitoring devices, blood sugar monitoring devices, hot/cold packs, and medical alter bracelets. With a letter of medical necessity, you can also use your FSA for massage therapy, reflexology, and exercise programs.

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Consider quitting smoking

Quitting smoking is one of the hardest but one of the best things you can do for your health. You may or may not know this but smoking suppresses your immune system and puts you at a greater risk for developing colds, upper respiratory infections, the flu, and pneumonia.  

While you can attempt to quit cold turkey, you can also try other medications like nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, nasal sprays and oral tablets.

If you would like help eliminating tobacco products, quit programs like SmokefreeTXT or your state’s quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) are available to you at no charge.

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