Fall is a wonderful time to live in Middle Tennessee. Unfortunately, falling leaves and the aroma of pumpkin spice aren’t the only things lingering in the air this time of year.

Yes, the arrival of autumn also means cold and flu season will soon be upon us. To help you and your family keep the sniffles and fevers at bay as much as possible, the Y and its health partners at Ascension Saint Thomas offers the following tips and suggestions.

7 healthy ideas for adults

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following tips and tricks to weather the cold and flu season. (Note: These are general guidelines, and no substitute to consulting with your doctor regarding your specific health or medical needs).

Get vaccinated: Seasonal flu vaccines protect against the four flu viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. There are several flu vaccine options this flu season. You can also ask your doctor if the next round of Covid-19 vaccinations are right for you.

Dr. Erin Peeden, an internal medicine and pediatrics physician with Ascension Saint Thomas in Nashville, additionally recommends the RSV vaccine for adults age 60 and older.

“This helps protect the community against spread of RSV which can cause young babies as well as older patients to be quite sick,” she explains.

Avoid close contact: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

Stay home when you are sick: If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

Cover your mouth and nose: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk.

Clean your hands: Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth: Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

Practice other good health habits: Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Extra advice for families with children

Cold and flu season can be especially trying for parents with young children. Peeden offers the American Academy of Pediatrics’ general recommendations for treating children with cold and flu as a great resource for parents to bookmark. It’s also helpful to have the dosing table for Tylenol and ibuprofen handy for reference.

“For typical viruses, the main treatment is supportive care and making sure children are remaining well hydrated,” Peeden advises. “If the fever persists, it is important to see your doctor to ensure the patient does not have an ear infection which often accompanies a virus.”

Over-the-counter medications are generally not recommended for children ages 6 and under. For children 1 and older, Peeden says honey is a great alternative for helping with a cough.

Stay croup aware

Peeden encourages parents to be especially vigilant in looking out for the croup.

“This happened with my niece last summer and it was terrifying,” she recalls. “I called the ambulance myself as she was not improving and thankfully everyone responded quickly.”

“But if there’s no improvement quickly,” she urges, “it’s time to go to the ER.”