Head colds, Influenza, and COVID… Oh My! How to Stay Well This Winter
Don’t let colds, flu, and COVID stop you from enjoying your fall and winter festivities! Ivira Health’s clinical pharmacists, Gabriella McGinley and Morgen Sitzler, are providing their best tips and tricks to help you this season.
Vitamins or supplements can help improve your health and assist in receiving vital nutrients your body may need to fight off a cold. Some examples of some vitamins that may be helpful for a cold, flu or COVID symptoms are Zinc and Vitamin C. Here is some additional information about the supplements listed above that may be useful prior to taking these vitamins or supplements:
Zinc may help decrease cold symptoms, but may not prevent you from getting sick. Zinc can also help improve immune function. Dose: 80 mg/ day for 2-3 weeks and should be started as soon as symptoms of a cold begin. Note: Zinc should NOT be taken if pregnant or breastfeeding. Pharmacist tip: Do not use intranasal products, only lozenges or tablets. Nasal products can cause a loss of smell.
Vitamin C can help improve immune function. Vitamin C may help decrease cold symptoms, but may not prevent you from getting sick Dose: 200 mg day (Do not exceed 2,000 mg a day)
Ivira pharmacy carries both zinc and Vitamin C supplements, so if cold symptoms start to develop, stop into the pharmacy to pick up these supplements!
There are many ways you can protect yourself from winter illnesses. Some people maybe at a higher risk for serious complications from the flu and COVID, including very young patients, patients over 65 years of age, pregnant people, or those with certain chronic health conditions. It is even more important to protect yourself, if you or a loved one falls into the categories listed above. Vaccines are an easy and effective way to reduce your chances and/or severity of illnesses.
Anyone 6 months or older should receive their annual flu vaccine. There are specific flu vaccines for patients > 65 years old. Some brands like, Fluzone High-dose Quadirvalent, Flublok Quadrivalent, or Fluad Quadrivalent, may provide more efficacy in older adults. Pharmacist tip: It takes two weeks to have full immunity from your vaccine. Be sure to get your flu shot between mid-September and mid-November! By receiving it during this time, you’ll have immunity for the holidays and for most, if not all, of the flu season.
Receive your COVID-19 Vaccine or get up to date on boosters! Did you know that there are now TWO bivalent COVID 19 boosters? These vaccines protect against two strains of COVID-19 and provide even more protection against COVID. Be sure to wait at least two months from your last COVID-19 dose before receiving this booster.
Make sure you are up to date on the rest of your vaccines! Patients over 65 years of age or those with certain chronic conditions may qualify to receive their pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. Additionally, anyone over the age of 50 may receive their shingles vaccine.
Ivira Pharmacy carries all vaccines, so call today or stop into the pharmacy to receive yours! Pharmacists are frequently asked what patients can take if they have a cold, flu, or COVID. The OTC aisle can be overwhelming and frustrating to navigate. So here is an easy list of what to take based on your symptoms! Remember, if you have been sick for more than one week, or have tested positive for flu or COVID-19, you should talk with your provider or make an appointment at your doctor’s office.
Some general pharmacist tips include: be sure to drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest. Your body needs healthy foods, adequate sleep, proper hydration, and time to health and rest.
If you have a dry cough (a nagging tickle in the back of your throat), you can use dextromethorphan. If you have a wet cough (coughing up phlegm or mucus), you can use guaifenesin. Pharmacist tip: You’ll notice there are many products that contain both medications together. Avoid using a combination product, if you can. Dextromethorphan is not recommended for those with a wet cough, and vice versa.
If you have a stuffy or runny nose, you can try a decongestant (pseudoephedrine), or an anti-histamine (like fexofenadine, or loratadine). Saline sprays, and intranasal steroids may also help. Pharmacist tip: pseudoephedrine should not be used in those with high blood pressure, and do not take for more than three days at a time. Anti-histamines may cause dizziness and drowsiness in older adults, and hyperactivity in younger children, so use with caution!
If you have a fever, you can try taking acetaminophen. Do not exceed doses of 3200mg in a day when taking acetaminophen. Be cautious taking combination cold medications as they may contain acetaminophen.
If you have a headache, you can try acetaminophen, naproxen, or ibuprofen. Ibuprofen and naproxen should not be used if you are currently taking any blood thinners. If you have high blood pressure, be cautious taking acetaminophen and NSAIDS as both can increase BP.
If you have a little one (less than 12 years of age), always check with your pediatrician about what they recommend and what dosage your child should receive! Most over the counter products are dosed based on your child’s weight.
The best way to prevent getting sick is to wash your hands. For more information about this topic please see our post about Preventive Care in the Time of a Pandemic: https://www.ivirahealth.com/post/preventative-care-in-the-time-of-a-pandemic