Understanding Types of Illness

Quick Protection Tips For Cold and Flu Season


Is It OK to Kiss if You Have a Cold?

Yes! Surprisingly, kissing is not a very easy way to become infected. Kissing studies have shown that only 8% of people kissed by infected partners got colds.1

Know if They’re Allergy or Cold Symptoms Right Now

Allergy symptoms almost never cause general aches and pains or fever. On the other hand, flu symptoms and sickness rarely include itchy eyes, which are common allergy symptoms.2

Is It a Cold or the Flu?

Though cold and flu symptoms are similar, tell-tale signs that you could be suffering from the flu are if you have a fever and the symptoms come on suddenly.3

Treat Allergies to Help Reduce Daytime Sleepiness

In 2006, a French study1 showed that seasonal allergies (basically your typical allergy symptoms) greatly disrupted sleep patterns and sleep quality, even if the patients didn’t wake up.4

Add Humidity to Fight Cold and Flu Viruses

Cold and flu viruses thrive in dry, winter air.1 Keeping your indoor humidity levels between 30% and 50%2 is recommended to help slow the spread of these viruses. Plus, it helps maintain a more comfortable environment for you and your family.3 Consider a Vicks® humidifier to help you make it through cold and flu season.5,6,7

Know How Often Colds Might Stop In

It is estimated that adults will suffer two to three colds per year,1 and children may suffer from two to nine colds annually.8,9,10


Keep Your Humidifier Clean

During the winter months—the height of cold and flu season—change the water in your humidifier daily.1 Clean your humidifier according to the manufacturer’s instructions.11

Keep Cleaning the Stuff You’re Using

Get into the habit of cleaning the stuff you share with others, such as computer keyboards, phones, remote controls, countertops, and more, to prevent the spread of cold and flu.12,13

Follow Hand Washing Basics

Hand-washing is so important that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made official guidelines on the topic. The CDC advises you to wash with soap and water, while scrubbing vigorously for at least 20 seconds.14

Know When to Wash Your Hands

To help prevent the spread of cold and flu germs, wash your hands at the following times: after petting an animal, before eating, before and after treating a cut, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.15

Trust Good Old Soap

Soap kills bacteria and germs. Feel free to use regular soap with water to wash your hands often. Keeping your hands clean and germ free can help prevent you catching cold.16,17


Be Aware That a Flu Vaccine Won’t Protect You from a Cold

Getting a flu vaccine before flu season protects only against some pathogens of influenza predicted to be common for that particular flu season.1 Unfortunately, there is no vaccination for the common cold. Washing your hands often with soap and water is one easy way to help prevent catching cold.18,19

Take cover from Coughs and Sneezes

Respiratory viruses spread in three ways:20

  • Through small droplets that are aerosolized by coughs or sneezes. These droplets do not settle and can carry germs over relatively long distances through the air that others can inhale.
  • Through large droplets similarly transmitted through the air over relatively short distances and settle rapidly.
  • Through direct contact with contaminated hands or surfaces.

Sleep Off a Cold

Not getting at least seven hours of sound sleep decreases your immune system’s ability to fight off a cold. Try to get a consistent seven to eight hours of good, quality sleep every night.21

Don’t Worry About Winter

Cold weather doesn’t give you a cold or flu, viruses do.22 However, spending more time indoors with other people during cold winter months increases the likelihood you will be exposed to cold and flu viruses,23 especially because cold and flu viruses tend to thrive in the dry conditions that are typical in wintertime.24 You may breathe more germ-infested air, which can contribute to why you get flu symptoms and sickness more often in the winter.

Use Antibiotics Appropriately

Unless you are diagnosed with a bacterial infection, avoid asking a doctor to prescribe antibiotics for cold or flu symptoms. Antibiotics are used to kill bacteria and therefore are ineffective in treating viral infections resulting from cold and flu viruses.25 In fact, the CDC warns that taking antibiotics unnecessarily can lead to dangerous antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.26

Fight Off Germs in an Airplane

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend you only travel when you feel well.27 You can keep germs at bay by washing your hands often with soap and water when available.28 Use a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer when regular soap and water aren’t available or convenient.29


Be Patient; We Get Well Gradually

Generally speaking, a cold can last up to seven to ten days with some symptoms, such as a cough, lasting longer.30 On these occasions, use Vicks® over-the-counter flu, cough, and cold medicines to help relieve flu and cold symptoms. However, if you don’t start to feel better after about a week, or your symptoms worsen, seek medical attention.