With our increasing workload and busy schedules, we often put ourselves out there, sometimes without a choice, for school and work. Unfortunately as a result our health often gets placed second. November has hit, and it’s the prime season for colds to be caught so now’s the time to bundle up and stay healthy.  

If you integrate the necessary precautions into your daily routine (like drinking lots of water, washing your hands often and before meals, not sharing food, avoiding touching your face), you won’t be as vulnerable to the evils of sickness. 

There are typically two types of common sicknesses, ones that are caused by viruses (i.e. the common cold, influenza), and ones that are caused by bacteria. They are two very different things.

If you have procured a virus and have the sniffles and coughing, it is generally a cold; a cold only requires some resting up, and maybe sleeping a bit earlier. If you have chills, muscle pain, a sore throat, weakness or fatigue, and maybe a fever, you might have the flu, or a bacteria-induced illness. If you do not have a fever and feel fine, resume your normal activities, but if you do, you might want to take a day off. This will allow your body to recuperate and will also minimize the risk of spreading it to others. If the fever is making you uncomfortable, take some antipyretic medication like Tylenol or Advil, which are easily acquirable over-the-counter brand names. However, keep in mind that these drugs are only meant to increase a patient’s comfort during the fever and are not used to actually bring down their temperature back to normal– that’s your body’s job.

If your fever lasts more than 3 days or your body temperature is abnormally high (say 40 degrees Celsius), you might have a bacteria intruder, in which case you require an antibiotic prescribed by your doctor or a clinic. There are a variety of antibiotics that target specific areas and your doctor or pharmacist will be able to assist you in choosing one. For example, I am currently down with Pharyngitis which is an upper respiratory tract infection, and I found out after visiting my doctor today I need Clarithromycin. If you take antibiotics, remember to finish all of it, even if you already feel better after a few pills. That’s how super-bugs are formed– when you only take a portion of your meds. In such a case the bacteria toughens up and adapts to it, making it resistant to it later when it is spread. Your doctor or pharmacist will probably warn you about all of this anyway.

Stay safe and healthy everybody, so when the snow comes we can ski, snowboard, and enjoy all kinds of winter fun without the nuisance of sickness.