How to beat the cold and flu this season

Posted at 8:34 AM, Nov 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-23 08:34:42-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- It's like clockwork.  Each year when the temperatures begin to plummet during the winter months, the cold and flu are there to pounce. Doctors said evidence showed that low temperatures and low humidity allow viruses to spread easier and live longer on surfaces.

Even though many people associate the two illnesses with each other, medical professionals said the cold and flu are caused by two different viruses.

"Colds are caused by viruses other than influenza. Colds don’t progress into influenza. They are unrelated and caused by different viruses; coronavirus, rhinovirus," said Dr. Gonzalo Bearman, chair of the infectious disease unit at VCU Medical Center.

Good hygiene (including hand washing), maintaining proper hydration, and getting enough rest can help your body ward off any illnesses that may be lingering at your home, your place of work, or your child's school.

Dr. Bearman said it was also a good idea to get everyone in your family a flu shot.

"The influenza vaccine is rarely 100 percent effective,  but even at 40 - 60 percent effective there are still some benefits in preventing the infection.  Plus, there is evidence that suggests it decreases the severity of the disease," said Bearman.

For more information on cold season, check out a question and answer session with Dr. Bearman.  For more information on this year's flu season forecast, or lack thereof, read this article by the Center for Disease Control.