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Tips for Staying Healthy During Cold & Flu Season

Category: Health Stories
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Habits for Winter Wellness

With cold and flu season in full swing, it’s important to know how to protect yourself and your family. Introduce some of these healthy habits into your routine to help promote wellness this winter.

1. Wash Your Hands Frequently

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), washing your hands is one of the most important ways you can avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of germs. Follow these steps to keep your hands clean and germ-free:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water.
  • Lather your hands with soap by rubbing them together, being sure to get the backs of your hands, under your nails and between your fingers.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. To keep track of time, hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
  • Rinse under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel.

2. Eat Healthy

Your immune system helps your body to fight off pathogens that make you sick, like viruses and bacteria. So, having a strong immune system is important when it comes to keeping your body happy and healthy. By incorporating some of the following foods into your diet, you can help keep your immune system strong:

  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Citrus fruits (like oranges and grapefruit)
  • Ginger
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Almonds
  • Red bell peppers
  • Dark chocolate
  • Oily fish (like salmon and tuna)
  • Leafy greens (like kale and spinach)
  • Green tea

3. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated can help loosen mucus, keep your throat and mouth moist, and prevent dehydration. Studies suggest that inhaling steam while drinking hot beverages like tea and warm water with lemon may also help prevent infection in your upper respiratory tract.

4. Embrace the ‘Sick Role’

If you do find yourself feeling under the weather, embrace the ‘sick role.’ This means taking it easy so you can recover and doing what you can to prevent others from getting sick. The following precautions can help keep others healthy:

  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or the inside of your elbow, never your hands
  • Keep your toothbrush separate from others’
  • Avoid sharing food
  • Avoid direct contact with others
  • Stay home from work or school until you’ve been fever-free for 24 hours (without the help of fever-reducing medications)

Immediate Care Options in Duluth

If your symptoms are not manageable at home or if you start to experience any of the following, seek additional medical help:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing and chest pain
  • Uncontrollable vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Persistent or worsening cough
  • Cough that brings up green or bloody saliva and mucus
  • For children: lethargy with changes in skin color


If you notice these or any other concerning symptoms, contact your primary care provider. If you need immediate attention and your primary care provider is unavailable, St Luke’s offers several same-day treatment options, including:

  • eCare for online diagnosis and treatment plan
  • Q Care for a quick in-person clinic visit
  • Urgent Care for minor medical emergencies

Our team of medical staff provides high-quality, compassionate care to people in northeastern Minnesota, northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. To learn more about our immediate care services or schedule an appointment, visit our website or give us a call at (218) 249-4000.

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