How sick

Go to for tips about how to avoid getting a cold or flu and/or what to do in case you manage to get it anyway.

Sure, it’s fun to write firebomb editorials castigating a government official, roasting a greedy developer or lambasting the overall priorities of the nation, but this isn’t one of those times. This is one of those times when we at SN&R want instead to offer some simple advice that we hope will help the weaker among us as we enter the new year—we’re talking about those suffering from a cold or flu.

(The information in this editorial is basically cribbed from the Food & Drug Administration,, but—what the hell—we’ll try to make the bureaucratese easier to understand.)

First, you need to know if you have a cold or the flu. A stuffy nose, sore throat and sneezing are usually signs of a cold. Tiredness, fever, headache, and major aches and pains are usually signs of the flu. A bad cough generally points to the flu. Many people want to know when to call the doctor. They must have better health insurance than we do.

The government says to call when your symptoms get worse or last a long time or after feeling a little better, you show signs of a more serious problem. Some of these signs are a sick-to-your-stomach feeling, vomiting, high fever, shaking, chills, chest pain or coughing with thick, yellow-green mucus. Right. Must be on taxpayer-funded health insurance. We can’t afford the co-pay.

How to avoid catching or passing along a cold? Wash your hands, wash your hands. And don’t forget to wash your hands! You can pick up cold germs on surfaces all over the place, when shaking someone’s hand, touching doorknobs or handrails. Avoid people with colds. Keep some of that hand sanitizer around. Sneeze or cough into a tissue and then throw the tissue away. Clean surfaces you touch with a germ-killing disinfectant. Don’t touch your nose, eyes or mouth.

As we’ve all read, a flu shot can lower your chance of getting the disease. The best time to get the shot … well, it’s already past. However, if you were smart back in November and were one of the chosen ones in high-risk groups (over 65 or with a health problem like asthma, HIV or heart disease, children or teens who must take aspirin, or people who are often around people with health problems), your doctor already hit you with a shot. If you haven’t already and fall into the above categories, contact your local health care provider to find out if you still should consider this.

If you manage somehow to catch a cold or flu anyway, please follow this rule: Stay home! Don’t go to work and risk infecting everybody there. Period.

Finally, it’s possible to help yourself feel better while you are sick: Drink plenty of fluids. Get plenty of rest. Use a humidifier if you’ve got one. Take over-the-counter cough and cold medicine (if they’ll sell them to you without demanding your baptismal certificate). It may help. That Mucinex seems to keep the Flemstone’s Chewable Lung Cookies to an appetizing level.

Don’t forget the chicken soup!

But really, all that’s going to help is time.