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Colds, parainfluenza and influenza – Oh My!

When the leaves are changing colors, pumpkin-spice everything are at the stores, swimsuits are exchanged for sweaters and the kids are back in school, you know cold and flu season is on the horizon. Although many respiratory illnesses run their course, there are a few diseases which can be significant in the upcoming months. Below are some steps to help reduce the risk of experiencing these seasonal ailments.

The most common respiratory viruses during the fall and winter are the common cold and parainfluenza viruses. No vaccines are available for these two illnesses and treatment is typically limited to symptom relief. Prevent the spread of these viruses by washing hands frequently with soap and water, covering their coughs and sneezes and stay home when you’re sick.

On the other hand, influenza vaccines remain the most effective way to prevent influenza. The “flu shot” is recommended for all persons age six months and older with no other contraindications. Pregnant women, elderly population, those with underlying medical conditions and young children are at a higher risk for developing influenza-related complications and are encouraged to be vaccinated.

As a reminder, colds and flus are caused by viruses. Antibiotics, which are used to treat bacterial infections, are not effective in treating these illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that 1/3 of the antibiotics prescribed in the outpatient setting are not necessary, and overuse can lead to antimicrobial resistance, increased medical care costs and more severe illnesses (aka “Super Bugs”).

For more information about the risk reduction steps to these seasonal ailments, contact the experts at Cogency at

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