Self-care strategies to help stay healthy this holiday season

(Family Features) With the COVID-19 pandemic added to the typical cold and flu season, many Americans are wondering what they can do to protect themselves and others this holiday season and how to respond if they get sick.

“As we enter this cold and flu season, it’s so important to practice self-care,” said Dr. Ian Smith, a physician, best- selling author and host of “The Doctors.” “Key preventative measures like washing your hands often and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze can be extremely effective in preventing the spread of germs. With COVID-19 also in the picture, there are a lot of questions on everyone’s mind around how to stay healthy and correctly identify and treat symptoms of the cold and flu or COVID-19.”

Flu vs. COVID-19

If you get sick this season, your first question will likely be whether it’s the flu or COVID-19. Both the flu and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. The flu is caused by the influenza virus and COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19, like fever and cough, are similar, making it difficult to tell the difference based on symptoms alone. Testing may be required for a proper diagnosis. If you have questions or concerns about your symptoms or about COVID-19, consult your health care professional.

Cold and Flu Treatment

For the common cold or flu, there are a variety of products available that contain several active ingredients commonly used to treat symptoms of respiratory viral infections. For example, Mucinex DM contains dextromethorphan, which helps to control cough and guaifenesin to help thin and loosen mucus and lasts 12 hours when used as directed. You can identify the right formula to provide relief based on symptoms you are experiencing by using the online tool at Mucinex.com, where you can also find more information regarding self-care remedies.

Holiday Gatherings

If you’re hosting or attending a gathering this holiday season, check local and state health sites for restrictions on gathering and guidance beforehand. Take appropriate measures to protect yourself and others, and remind fellow guests to take similar precautions. Don’t attend or host an event if you’re sick or have had close contact with someone who is sick. If feasible, keep the event outdoors or ensure the space is well ventilated with open windows. Limit the number of attendees so safe social distancing can be maintained between people not from the same household, and wear masks when less than 6 feet apart or indoors. Frequent hand washing and limiting food preparers or servers can also help reduce the spread of germs.