Updated November 2019  (Original article November 2013)

Flu season can be unpredictable and can vary from season to season. It can begin as early as October and continue all the way until May, though it normally peaks in January and February. Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself against the flu, especially if you’re a child, over 65 year old, or pregnant. And it’s free in most cases. It’s important to know the difference between a cold and the flu. The common cold is a much tamer respiratory illness than the flu, which can be debilitating for a week or two. The flu can even result in hospitalizations and death due to pneumonia. A cold, on the other hand, includes a runny nose, sore throat, congestion, and a slight fever in children.

Take Steps to Protect Yourself Against the Common Cold:

-Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.-Stay away from people who are sick. -Disinfect frequently used surfaces with isopropal alcohol and water or vodka, two potent natural disinfectants. -Drink plenty of water because staying hydrated boosts your immune system. -Stay active. While you may think going outside might make you catch a cold, regular exercise actually helps to boost your immune system. -Take probiotics because the health of your gut is closely linked to your immune system. Bruised from your flu shot? It happens, in fact, the arm you get your flu shot in can be tender for a day or two. Heal bruises with Zax’s Original Bruise Cream made with arnica, menthol, and witch hazel to reduce pain and get rid of bruises fast. Sara Novak is a Natural Health Care Expert for Zax Health. Follow her on Twitter at @sarafnovak.