5 Things to Stock Up on For Cold and Flu Season 

Some days it can seem like cold and flu symptoms appear out of nowhere. One minute, you are feeling fine and the next, you’ve got a scratchy feeling in your throat or chills and a fever that seem to hit with a one-two punch. When this happens, a bad day can feel worse if you’re not prepared for these symptoms. We’ll show you five things to stock up on for cold and flu season. 

In many parts of the United States, cold and flu season already is underway. The flu season typically starts as early as October, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It can peak between the holidays and February, and last until May. 

Last year’s flu season was fairly light compared to past years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 2,000 flu cases were reported to the CDC between the end of September 2020 and the end of April 2021, compared to more than 39 million people who reported influenza symptoms the year before. This light flu season was also during a time when many people in the U.S. were wearing masks and practicing social distancing because of the COVID-19 pandemic – two good ways to keep from spreading the flu, as well. 

As you stock up on cold and flu essentials, here are a handful of things to keep within reach: 

Soft tissues. Sneezing, runny noses and watery eyes are all hallmarks of cold and flu season. Keep extra tissues on hand, so you don’t have to end up using rougher paper towels or napkins that could irritate the sensitive skin of your face. Boxes of tissues are convenient for the home and small tissue packs are easy to carry in purses, backpacks, in your vehicle and jacket pockets.  

Chicken soup. This one is not an old wives’ tale. Whether you make your own chicken stock and simmer your own vegetables or buy your favorite brand of canned soup, keep some in the cupboard or freezer for when you get sick. Eating warm chicken soup may help lessen cold symptoms and ease nasal congestion, according to dieticians from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  

Warm drinks. Just like spoonfuls of soup, warm drinks can help people feel better if they’re battling a cold or flu. Sipping warm liquids can soothe an irritated throat, help ease congestion, and just make you feel cozy and more comfortable.  

Warm mist humidifier. Warm steam emitted from a humidifier can help soothe airways and make breathing easier when you are congested. When you need it, pour in fresh water and turn it on. If you have small children at home who might get too close to the warm mist and hot-water reservoir, consider switching to a cool-mist humidifier, which offers the same hydrating benefits. 

Over-the-counter medication. Sometimes you need a little help to quell cold and flu symptoms. If over-the-counter medications don’t work for you, check with your healthcare provider. Here are the most common types of cold and flu medication available over the counter to keep on hand: 

  • Pain medication like Tylenol or Motrin for headaches and body aches 
  • Expectorants that help thin mucus, like Robitussin or Mucinex 
  • Cough suppressants 
  • Cough drops 
  • Antihistamines, which can help with sneezing and coughing 
  • Nasal decongestants 

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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