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Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season (VIDEO)

(VIDEO: Watch Deepa Sharma, D.O., a Baptist Health Medical Group physician, talk about staying healthy during cold and flu season.)

As the weather cools during these winter months, sniffles and coughs from colds and flu often rise. On average, adults get 2-3 colds a year, and between 5 and 20 percent of the general population comes down with the flu, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With the peak of flu season approaching in February, what can you do to stay healthy and avoid getting sick this year?

“Both the cold and the flu are caused by viruses, but each has different symptoms, duration and treatments,” says Deepa Sharma, D.O., a family medicine physician with Baptist Health Primary Care in Coral Gables.

Flu season typically starts in October and can last through May. It usually peaks in the colder winter months of December through February, says the CDC.

“The viruses that cause the flu are hard to predict, so we won’t always know what time of year they will become prevalent, or if there’s a particular region that experiences more cases,” Dr. Sharma adds.

To stay healthy, there are a few things Dr. Sharma strongly recommends:

  1. Get adequate sleep.
  2. Keep stress at bay.
  3. Drink plenty of liquids, hot and cold.
  4. Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing.
  5. Try not to touch your face, nose or mouth, especially during cold and flu season.
  6. Be aware of where germs can be around you and wash hands often.
  7. Clean your screen!
    Another important thing to remember to do is what Dr. Sharma refers to as “device hygiene” – keeping cell phones, tablets and other frequently used electronic devices free of germs.

Dr. Sharma also recommends the flu vaccine to all of her patients.  Even if you come down with the flu, being vaccinated can cut down on how miserable you may feel, she adds.

“We definitely see a difference in patients who’ve had the flu shot. Their symptoms are much less severe, and the time they have the flu is shorter,” Dr. Sharma said. “And national outcomes are showing that higher vaccination rates result in less hospitalizations from flu-related complications.”

Watch the video now to hear more of her advice for staying healthy during cold and flu season.

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With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 13 hospitals, more than 23,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 100 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.