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The holidays are approaching fast, which may mean parties, traveling and spending time with your family. However you mark the occasion, it would be a shame to miss the celebrations because your home sick.
There are some common illnesses that tend to come around during the winter months just in time for Christmas. But knowing what to watch out for and how to prevent it can help you stay well this holiday season.
The Common Cold
You know the feeling. It starts with a scratchy throat and runny nose. A cold may be common, but all that coughing and sneezing can interfere with your holiday celebrations.
There are lots of different viruses that can cause the upper respiratory tract infection, known as the common cold. But the most frequent cause is the rhinovirus. The virus can easily be spread through respiratory droplets, which means if someone who is sick sneezes and you’re close enough, you may breathe in the droplets.
Although a cold is usually not serious, it can make you feel pretty rundown. There are many over the counter cold remedies that may help decrease symptoms. Decongestants and pain relievers may help you feel more comfortable. Don’t bother asking your doctor for antibiotics since they will not help and are not needed unless an accompanying bacterial infection is present.
Practicing good hand hygiene is your best defense when it comes to preventing the common cold. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially before eating.
Although it can occur at other times of the year, norovirus tends to make an appearance in the winter. Noroviruses are not one specific virus. Instead, they are a group of viruses that lead to inflammation of the intestines and stomach. It’s sometimes referred to as the stomach flu, although it is not caused by the same viruses responsible for influenza.
If you develop norovirus, you’ll know it pretty quickly. Symptoms often come on suddenly and include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Some people also develop a low-grade fever, fatigue and chills. Dehydration is a possible complication.
Infection with norovirus can be due to eating or drinking contaminated food. It can also be spread through cross-contamination. For example, if someone with the virus touches a surface and you touch the same surface and then touch your mouth, you may have just infected yourself.
Norovirus is considered very contagious and spreads fast in close quarters, such as day care centers and nursing homes. Your best bet to prevent norovirus is to wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom and changing a baby’s diaper. Always wash fruits and vegetables and disinfect surfaces you use for cooking, such as a cutting board.
If you are unlucky and develop norovirus, you’ll most likely just have to ride it out. Rest as much as possible, try to drink liquids, such as oral rehydration drinks to avoid dehydration.
Since it can be easily transmitted, stay away from other people in your home. You don’t need norovirus to spread to your entire family during the holidays.