TriStar Horizon Medical Center December 21, 2016

Thousands of people in the U.S. die from flu-related complications each year. TriStar Horizon's medical director of emergency services, Matt Tincher, M.D., offers these cold and flu season tips to help keep you healthy.

"A lot of people think that getting your flu shot is a sort of cure-all for the entire season," says Dr. Tincher. "But there are many other easy habits that can also help."

Employ these tips to help you survive this season:

  • Get a grip. Chewing nervously on your fingernails or rubbing your eyes may seem like harmless fidgeting, but they are quick ways to pass germs around. "Try to keep hand sanitizer nearby and make notes to yourself to stop biting your nails or picking at your skin if you need to," offers Tincher.
  • Use soap. "It's such a simple thing to do, washing your hands," says Tincher, "but we often forget this most basic habit can be one of the most effective means of controlling the spread of germs."
  • Get a routine. Spring cleaning is great, but be sure you hit germ hot-spots with antibacterial cleaners all year long. Tincher states, "Some places to watch out for are handles and door knobs, remote and game controls and toys."
  • Get a vaccination. "If you're pregnant, young or old, you really need to get the flu vaccine," Tincher cautions, "but the truth is the vaccine is for almost everyone. Talk to your doctor right away before the season gets too far in and see what vaccines you might need and be eligible for."

Remember, if you're sick already, make responsible choices like staying home from work or school. If you think you might be sick, see your doctor or get to the emergency room if you have a serious fever or severe dehydration.