With more than 150 million cold, flu and allergy episodes annually, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, one of the absolute certainties in life is that you or someone you know will have a case of coughs and sniffles this year.
Before the sore throat, itchy eyes, runny nose and dry lips set in, take the time to stock up your medicine cabinet with the essentials needed to alleviate cold and flu symptoms through the upcoming season.
“The cold and flu season brings on body aches, sore throats, chapped lips, headaches and fevers,” says Dr. Charles Zugerman, Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago. “When suffering from these ailments, it is important to stay home and not risk spreading germs to others. Therefore, it is critical to make sure you have the necessary items on hand to combat your symptoms before the season starts to ensure a restful recovery.”
Here are a few medicine cabinet basics:
• Sanitizer. Stave off germs by keeping disinfectant wipes and a hand sanitizer that contains 60 percent ethanol or isopropanol nearby. These will help to kill and prevent transmitting germs.
• Nasal Decongestant. A stuffy nose is one of the most common and irritating symptoms of allergies, a cold and the flu. Decongestants relieve nasal congestion and shrink the tissues and blood vessels in the eyes and nose that swell in response to a cold or contact with an allergen.
• Lip balm. Mouth breathing due to congestion and other side effects of a cold, allergies and the flu create severe dryness and irritation that leave lips susceptible to further infection. By relieving annoying symptoms like lip discomfort, cold and allergy sufferers feel better, which in turn helps them rest and get better.
Dr. Zugerman’s two personal lip balm picks: New Blistex Cold & Allergy Lip Soother and Medicated Lip Ointment (www.blistex.com). They won’t cure sniffles or a cold, but both will help soothe and comfort lips that are feeling under the weather. Blistex Cold & Allergy Lip Soother is formulated with soothing ingredients and an advanced analgesic to bring lips relief and prevent further irritation. Blistex Medicated Lip Ointment is clinically proven to heal dry, chapped lips and has four medications to ease pain, itching and discomfort. For more information, visit www.Blistex.com.
Medicine cabinet aside, experts recommend getting a flu shot early to protect yourself as well as those around you.