Skip to Content
January 13, 2015

Protect Yourself from Cold and Flu

It is not the most wonderful time of the year when cold and flu season hits. Protect yourself with the following treatments and methods to help make the days be merry and bright.

Waupaca Physician Offers Tips

It is not the most wonderful time of the year when cold and flu season hits. Protect yourself with the following treatments and methods to help make the days be merry and bright.

Start with the influenza vaccination. “It’s the single most important thing you can do,” said Dr. Zach Baeseman, family physician at ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca.

Pain Relief

Aches and fever are top signs that the flu has come to call. For pain relief, try a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen sodium (Aleve). Acetaminophen like Tylenol works as well as a painkiller to provide some relief.

Many people still use aspirin, which can reduce fever and provide pain relief. Just do not give to children under 18 because it can increase their risk for a rare but dangerous disease called Reye’s syndrome. “With any pain reliever, always follow the dosing instructions,” said Dr. Baeseman. “Taking more acetaminophen than recommended can harm the liver while high doses of ibuprofen has been linked to stomach bleeding.”

Stuffy Nose

With a stuffed nose, it is hard to breathe let alone taste or smell. An oral or nasal decongestant helps dry up mucus production, making it easier to breathe. However, these fast-acting nasal decongestants should be limited to three days use or there could be rebound effects. “The congestion could come back and be worse,” said Dr. Baeseman.

Consider a saline nasal spray. This salt and water mix helps clear out mucus without the side effects of nasal decongestant. Antihistamines are often taken but they can provide many side effects and little relief. Some products, like Benadryl, can also make users drowsy.


Cough is a common symptom for both cold and flu. It is also a way a person can catch an illness. Someone who is sick could cough and infected droplets would be sprayed onto a surface that would be touched by someone else. Many over-the-counter medicines only help to calm a cough, not sure one. Drinking tea with honey or other warm liquids are just as effective for soothing a cough. If the cough is still bothersome, consider an over-the-counter medicine with dextromethorphan or guaifenesin to offer relief. If the cough persists, see a family doctor for a prescription cough medicine. Always remember to cover that cough.

Sore throat

Nothing is more irritating than a scratchy, sore throat. Honey, warm liquids and medicated throat drops can be soothing. Just be careful not to take too many cough drops. “Cough drops can be as sugary as candy,” said Dr. Baeseman.

Pain medication can help with a painful sore throat. But see a doctor if that does not provide relief because it could be a sign of strep throat or other bacterial infection.

Alternative remedies

Studies are conflicting if alternative remedies such as zinc, Echinacea and vitamin C really work. They could reduce symptoms but not prevent them, said Dr. Baeseman. Talk to a doctor about trying alternative methods to treat a cold and flu.


The easiest way to avoid getting sick is to wash hands with soap and warm water. Don’t have easy access to a sink? Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket, purse or at your desk.


While it may be hard, another key to getting better faster is to get plenty of rest as well as drinking a lot of fluids, like water, broth, clear liquids and warm liquids. “Typically a cold lasts a few days so take whatever measures you need to treat it,” said Dr. Baeseman.

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of seven hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, ThedaCare Medical Center-New London, Shawano Medical Center, Riverside Medical Center, Berlin Memorial Hospital and Wild Rose Community Memorial Hospital. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, ThedaCare At Work,  ThedaCare at Home and Heritage/Peabody campus. ThedaCare is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,800 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!