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October 2023

Don’t Get Caught Unprepared for Flu or COVID-19

Fall and winter bring cooler weather, holidays, and—unfortunately—a rise in both flu and COVID-19 cases.

Vaccines are the best protection against both diseases. Still, even those with all their shots may develop infections, although they are likely to be milder. Here are a few essential items to have on hand to cope if you do get sick.

Testing supplies

First things first: How do you know which virus you’ve contracted? Test for COVID-19 as soon as you have symptoms.

You can buy home test kits at pharmacies or online. The FDA has a list of authorized tests. Check with your insurance company about getting reimbursed.

Over-the-counter medicines

Medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can relieve low fever and mild aches and pains. Nasal decongestants, cough medicines, and saline nasal sprays improve respiratory symptoms.

Well-fitting masks

When you’re sick, keeping a mask on prevents you from spreading the virus to others. You should also wear one if you’re caring for someone who’s ill.

Plenty of tissues

Covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze stops viruses from spreading. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can and wash your hands immediately afterward.

Foods easy on your stomach 

For some people, COVID-19 causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It’s hard to eat when your stomach’s on edge—but it’s important to nourish your body so you avoid exhaustion and dehydration.

Bland foods like bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, saltine crackers, and potatoes don’t irritate your gut. Plus, they restore vital nutrients. For example, bananas are high in potassium. 

Electrolyte beverages

Hydration is also key to recovering from illness. Water works in most cases. But electrolyte drinks can provide extra nutrients after vomiting or diarrhea. Liquids like soup and broth can also help replenish fluids.

Your healthcare provider’s phone number

Treatment for COVID-19 or flu can reduce your risk of getting very sick or going to the hospital. But it only works soon after you develop symptoms.

If you’re at high risk for complications, call your provider as soon as you feel sick.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley BSN, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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